How To Turn A National Crisis Into A National Tragedy

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Quick – how do you turn a national crisis into a national tragedy? One way is to do nothing at all. On one level, it’s completely unsurprising that Washington is resigned to the fact that Congress will break for five weeks, starting next Thursday, without acting at all to address the influx of unaccompanied minors via the southern border. But why does this have to be the case? There’s bipartisan agreement that this is a major problem that needs additional American resources. The agreement extends even to the fact that the handling of the children once they’re on US soil is haphazard and inefficient, and that the nation needs more judges to deal with it. Yes, differences remain – but where are the cries for Congress to actually talk about them and deal with the very big problem? There’s a presidential proposal, a House plan, and a Senate plan. And it’s a sad conclusion to draw that we know with near certainty that there will be no new law before Labor Day.
  • HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama wakes up in L.A. for the final day of his three-day west coast swing. This afternoon, the president attends a Democratic National Committee event at a private residence. Later, he delivers remarks on the economy at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. The president departs Los Angeles arriving back at the White House late tonight.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s ARIANE DE VOGUE: Should lethal injection be replaced by firing squad? One federal judge thinks so. Before Joseph Wood’s controversial execution Wednesday, one federal judge reviewing the case earlier in the week opined that states should consider abandoning lethal injection executions in favor of a return to “more primitive” and “foolproof” methods such as the firing squad. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski,  of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote an opinion on Monday expressing his belief that Arizona would ultimately prevail in its attempt to execute Wood who was convicted of killing his estranged girlfriend and her father in 1989. But Kozinski said that using drugs to carry out executions is a “misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful.” His words seem almost eerily prescient after conflicting reports emerged regarding whether Woods died peacefully, as one witness said, or gasping for air as another witness suggested. In the provocative opinion, Kozinski wrote: “Sure, firing squads can be messy,” he wrote, “but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.”

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Yesterday we looked at the numbers in the Florida governor’s race. Today let’s take a very early look at the Sunshine State’s 2016 numbers. Hillary Clinton is on top, even beating former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a possible match up, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. In a head to head she comes in with 49 percent to Bush’s 42 percent. Up against another Floridian Sen. Marco Rubio, Clinton has 53 percent to 39 percent. In a possible GOP presidential primary, Bush gets 21 percent of the vote in his home state, followed by Rubio with 18 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz is next with ten percent, followed by Sen. Rand Paul with 8 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 7 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with only 6 percent. Clinton also tops a hypothetical Democratic primary, getting 67 percent compared to Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both with 8 percent. As for the president’s job approval ratings , Florida voters give the president a negative 44 to 52 percent, similar to May when he had a negative 46 to 50 percent rating. Again, the 2016 numbers at this early stage are heavily weighted by name recognition, something to keep in mind with any early presidential polls.

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

SOLDIERS REUNITE WITH DOGS THEY SERVED WITH IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. They’re the four-legged veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – military war dogs, doing everything from sniffing out explosive devices on the battlefield to providing companionship to soldiers during wartime. Three of these dogs traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday with the same service members they served with on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan, raising awareness about the need to reunite military war dogs with their handlers, according to ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ. “This is my best friend. This is my partner. This is my battle buddy,” Army Staff Sgt. Jason Bos told ABC News of his dog Cila. The two partners reunited in April after serving together on nearly 100 missions in Iraq. Organizations like the American Humane Association and Mission K9 Rescue are working to reunite many of these service dogs with their battlemates once their service is complete. http://abcn.ws/1kcRL18 WATCH Jon Karl’s “World News” report: http://abcn.ws/1nW2Eip

BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT, AT LEAST ON BASEBALL AND HOT DOGS. At least Congress can decide on two things: baseball and hot dogs, notes ABC’s JAKE LEFFERMAN As partisan tensions mount and the August recess fast approaches, Washington lawmakers and their staffers took a break from politics to celebrate National Hot Dog Day. Sure, the border crisis remains unsolved, the House leadership still plans to sue the president and the health plans of millions of American’s may be in jeopardy. But hey, a lawmaker’s got to eat, right? National Hot Dog Day, the pinnacle of National Hot Dog Month, is a self-designated holiday by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. While most Americans won’t be getting the day off, it was a chance for lawmakers to sample the fare of hot dog vendors from around the country. And because nothing pairs better with a hot dog than the nation’s pastime, baseball Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey Sr. and Cecil Cooper were there to meet fans and sign autographs. http://abcn.ws/1nhBreK

GOP NY GOVERNOR CANDIDATE TO CONFRONT CHRIS CHRISTIE OVER REMARKS ON VIABILITY. Expect it to be rocky in Aspen. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is planning on confronting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over comments he made earlier in the week about his campaign’s viability against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. On Monday while campaigning in Connecticut for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, Christie was asked whether he would hit the campaign trail for Astorino and he answered that he “will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning.” “We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie continued. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.” At a press conference Tuesday, Astorino said, “If Gov. Christie is unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job,” according to the New York Daily News. http://abcn.ws/1r9Docq

A CONSERVATIVE THRILLER? ‘PERSECUTED’ DIRECTOR AIMS FOR MAINSTREAM. The next D.C. political suspense movie isn’t what you’d expect, ABC’s CHIRS GOOD notes. The forthcoming “Persecuted” is a lowbudget affair with some heavy political themes that appeal to conservatives and that its creator hopes will find a broader audience. The thriller explores themes of government censorship, conspiracy theories, free speech, and religious faith in the face of government suppression. It features former Republican presidential candidate, senator, and “Law and Order” star Fred Thompson and Fox News host Gretchen Carlson – -which may give it, at first glance, a conservative flavor. The film follows a fictional evangelical preacher framed for murder for refusing to support a bill concerning religion. It was screened in March at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the D.C. area, where it appealed to the conservative audience. “Persecuted” was reportedly funded by Kansas venture capitalist Jerry Simmons, but that is a detail Lusko would not confirm, declining to discuss the film’s backers. Simmons is listed, however, as an executive producer. http://abcn.ws/1kcpYxJ

DESPITE CAMEO, TED CRUZ NOT A ‘TRUE BLOOD’ FAN. He may have landed a cameo on the hit show, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is apparently not a fan of HBO’s “True Blood,” note’s ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY. Following a particularly grizzly episode featuring Republicans murdered at a Ted Cruz fundraiser, the tea party darling blasted the show as “misogynist and profanity-ridden.” “Well, I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends,” Cruz wrote on Facebook Tuesday. The episode, laced with tasteless (but admittedly creative) nicknames for Republicans, depicts guests cowering behind a Cruz poster dramatically ripped down by flying bullets. Good news for Sen. Cruz: What with all this vampire talk, Cruz has probably picked up the Twilight-obsessed teen girl vote. http://abcn.ws/1nUSVc6

PEOPLE KEEP TRYING TO SNEAK GUNS INTO THE US CAPITOL. A man was arrested yesterday morning attempting to enter the Cannon House Office Building with a loaded firearm concealed inside a bag, U.S. Capitol Police said. “A firearm was recovered as a result of an administrative search at the rotunda door of the Cannon House Office Building,” police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed, adding that the incident occurred at about 9:20 a.m. Yesterday;s action follows a similar incident last week when a congressional staffer attempted to enter the same building and was charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Last week’s event occurred at the South East Door of the Cannon House Office Building at about the same time in the morning, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON. http://abcn.ws/1A6ielt

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

HARDING’S LOVE LETTERS TO MISTRESS MAY ACTUALLY HELP HIS IMAGE, HISTORIANS SAY. The now notorious love letters of former President Warren Harding may ironically be the basis of a belated campaign to improve the image of the man generally considered to be one of the country’s worst presidents, notes ABC’s NOAH WEILAND. Harding’s grandnephew Richard Harding made the case before a packed Library of Congress assembly Tuesday by saying, “It is with some ambivalence, but with a sense of history, that we are present.” Richard Harding and a battery of historians and archivists said Tuesday that the salacious letters – some of them 40 pages long – give new insight to the man who has been called America’s worst president. “Warren Harding doesn’t need protecting. He needs honest and hard-working historians to tell the story like they see it,” Richard Harding told the gathering. The roughly thousand pages were written by Harding between 1910 and 1920 to Carrie Phillips, when Harding was lieutenant governor of Ohio and a U.S. senator. http://abcn.ws/1uglEl3

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

 

@SecretaryFoxx: Great video! Vice President #Biden takes to @WhiteHouse whiteboard, explains why we must #GrowAmerica http://1.usa.gov/1pf1LTl 

 

@adamnagourney: A strong argument against jungle primary pointing to strange outcomes in Ca.: @haroldmeyerson rebuts @senschumer. http://wapo.st/UoXtAD 

 

@JohnJHarwood: i’ll interview @HillaryClinton live this morning @OnPointRadio. Airs at 10:40 am but avail anytime after at http://wbur.org 

 

@Noahbierman: Great @mviser story on @BarneyFrank return to Congress (as a visitor) http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2014/07/23/barney-frank-returns-testify-congress-scene-old-friendships-and-few-old-grudges/YSfEnPJzyOLFIFV0Fy0mjN/story.html …

 

@bethreinhard: Mitt Romney turned down Urban League invite in 2012. Rand Paul asked for one. http://on.wsj.com/1nE5DC6 

 

How To Turn A National Crisis Into A National Tragedy

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • ANALYSIS — ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Quick – how do you turn a national crisis into a national tragedy? One way is to do nothing at all. On one level, it’s completely unsurprising that Washington is resigned to the fact that Congress will break for five weeks, starting next Thursday, without acting at all to address the influx of unaccompanied minors via the southern border. But why does this have to be the case? There’s bipartisan agreement that this is a major problem that needs additional American resources. The agreement extends even to the fact that the handling of the children once they’re on US soil is haphazard and inefficient, and that the nation needs more judges to deal with it. Yes, differences remain – but where are the cries for Congress to actually talk about them and deal with the very big problem? There’s a presidential proposal, a House plan, and a Senate plan. And it’s a sad conclusion to draw that we know with near certainty that there will be no new law before Labor Day.
  • HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama wakes up in L.A. for the final day of his three-day west coast swing. This afternoon, the president attends a Democratic National Committee event at a private residence. Later, he delivers remarks on the economy at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. The president departs Los Angeles arriving back at the White House late tonight.

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s ARIANE DE VOGUE: Should lethal injection be replaced by firing squad? One federal judge thinks so. Before Joseph Wood’s controversial execution Wednesday, one federal judge reviewing the case earlier in the week opined that states should consider abandoning lethal injection executions in favor of a return to “more primitive” and “foolproof” methods such as the firing squad. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski,  of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote an opinion on Monday expressing his belief that Arizona would ultimately prevail in its attempt to execute Wood who was convicted of killing his estranged girlfriend and her father in 1989. But Kozinski said that using drugs to carry out executions is a “misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful.” His words seem almost eerily prescient after conflicting reports emerged regarding whether Woods died peacefully, as one witness said, or gasping for air as another witness suggested. In the provocative opinion, Kozinski wrote: “Sure, firing squads can be messy,” he wrote, “but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.”

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Yesterday we looked at the numbers in the Florida governor’s race. Today let’s take a very early look at the Sunshine State’s 2016 numbers. Hillary Clinton is on top, even beating former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a possible match up, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. In a head to head she comes in with 49 percent to Bush’s 42 percent. Up against another Floridian Sen. Marco Rubio, Clinton has 53 percent to 39 percent. In a possible GOP presidential primary, Bush gets 21 percent of the vote in his home state, followed by Rubio with 18 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz is next with ten percent, followed by Sen. Rand Paul with 8 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 7 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with only 6 percent. Clinton also tops a hypothetical Democratic primary, getting 67 percent compared to Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both with 8 percent. As for the president’s job approval ratings , Florida voters give the president a negative 44 to 52 percent, similar to May when he had a negative 46 to 50 percent rating. Again, the 2016 numbers at this early stage are heavily weighted by name recognition, something to keep in mind with any early presidential polls.

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

SOLDIERS REUNITE WITH DOGS THEY SERVED WITH IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. They’re the four-legged veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – military war dogs, doing everything from sniffing out explosive devices on the battlefield to providing companionship to soldiers during wartime. Three of these dogs traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday with the same service members they served with on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan, raising awareness about the need to reunite military war dogs with their handlers, according to ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ. “This is my best friend. This is my partner. This is my battle buddy,” Army Staff Sgt. Jason Bos told ABC News of his dog Cila. The two partners reunited in April after serving together on nearly 100 missions in Iraq. Organizations like the American Humane Association and Mission K9 Rescue are working to reunite many of these service dogs with their battlemates once their service is complete. http://abcn.ws/1kcRL18 WATCH Jon Karl’s “World News” report: http://abcn.ws/1nW2Eip

BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT, AT LEAST ON BASEBALL AND HOT DOGS. At least Congress can decide on two things: baseball and hot dogs, notes ABC’s JAKE LEFFERMAN As partisan tensions mount and the August recess fast approaches, Washington lawmakers and their staffers took a break from politics to celebrate National Hot Dog Day. Sure, the border crisis remains unsolved, the House leadership still plans to sue the president and the health plans of millions of American’s may be in jeopardy. But hey, a lawmaker’s got to eat, right? National Hot Dog Day, the pinnacle of National Hot Dog Month, is a self-designated holiday by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. While most Americans won’t be getting the day off, it was a chance for lawmakers to sample the fare of hot dog vendors from around the country. And because nothing pairs better with a hot dog than the nation’s pastime, baseball Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey Sr. and Cecil Cooper were there to meet fans and sign autographs. http://abcn.ws/1nhBreK

GOP NY GOVERNOR CANDIDATE TO CONFRONT CHRIS CHRISTIE OVER REMARKS ON VIABILITY. Expect it to be rocky in Aspen. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is planning on confronting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over comments he made earlier in the week about his campaign’s viability against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. On Monday while campaigning in Connecticut for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, Christie was asked whether he would hit the campaign trail for Astorino and he answered that he “will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning.” “We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie continued. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.” At a press conference Tuesday, Astorino said, “If Gov. Christie is unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job,” according to the New York Daily News. http://abcn.ws/1r9Docq

A CONSERVATIVE THRILLER? ‘PERSECUTED’ DIRECTOR AIMS FOR MAINSTREAM. The next D.C. political suspense movie isn’t what you’d expect, ABC’s CHIRS GOOD notes. The forthcoming “Persecuted” is a lowbudget affair with some heavy political themes that appeal to conservatives and that its creator hopes will find a broader audience. The thriller explores themes of government censorship, conspiracy theories, free speech, and religious faith in the face of government suppression. It features former Republican presidential candidate, senator, and “Law and Order” star Fred Thompson and Fox News host Gretchen Carlson – -which may give it, at first glance, a conservative flavor. The film follows a fictional evangelical preacher framed for murder for refusing to support a bill concerning religion. It was screened in March at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the D.C. area, where it appealed to the conservative audience. “Persecuted” was reportedly funded by Kansas venture capitalist Jerry Simmons, but that is a detail Lusko would not confirm, declining to discuss the film’s backers. Simmons is listed, however, as an executive producer. http://abcn.ws/1kcpYxJ

DESPITE CAMEO, TED CRUZ NOT A ‘TRUE BLOOD’ FAN. He may have landed a cameo on the hit show, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is apparently not a fan of HBO’s “True Blood,” note’s ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY. Following a particularly grizzly episode featuring Republicans murdered at a Ted Cruz fundraiser, the tea party darling blasted the show as “misogynist and profanity-ridden.” “Well, I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends,” Cruz wrote on Facebook Tuesday. The episode, laced with tasteless (but admittedly creative) nicknames for Republicans, depicts guests cowering behind a Cruz poster dramatically ripped down by flying bullets. Good news for Sen. Cruz: What with all this vampire talk, Cruz has probably picked up the Twilight-obsessed teen girl vote. http://abcn.ws/1nUSVc6

PEOPLE KEEP TRYING TO SNEAK GUNS INTO THE US CAPITOL. A man was arrested yesterday morning attempting to enter the Cannon House Office Building with a loaded firearm concealed inside a bag, U.S. Capitol Police said. “A firearm was recovered as a result of an administrative search at the rotunda door of the Cannon House Office Building,” police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed, adding that the incident occurred at about 9:20 a.m. Yesterday;s action follows a similar incident last week when a congressional staffer attempted to enter the same building and was charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Last week’s event occurred at the South East Door of the Cannon House Office Building at about the same time in the morning, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON. http://abcn.ws/1A6ielt

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

HARDING’S LOVE LETTERS TO MISTRESS MAY ACTUALLY HELP HIS IMAGE, HISTORIANS SAY. The now notorious love letters of former President Warren Harding may ironically be the basis of a belated campaign to improve the image of the man generally considered to be one of the country’s worst presidents, notes ABC’s NOAH WEILAND. Harding’s grandnephew Richard Harding made the case before a packed Library of Congress assembly Tuesday by saying, “It is with some ambivalence, but with a sense of history, that we are present.” Richard Harding and a battery of historians and archivists said Tuesday that the salacious letters – some of them 40 pages long – give new insight to the man who has been called America’s worst president. “Warren Harding doesn’t need protecting. He needs honest and hard-working historians to tell the story like they see it,” Richard Harding told the gathering. The roughly thousand pages were written by Harding between 1910 and 1920 to Carrie Phillips, when Harding was lieutenant governor of Ohio and a U.S. senator. http://abcn.ws/1uglEl3

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

 

@SecretaryFoxx: Great video! Vice President #Biden takes to @WhiteHouse whiteboard, explains why we must #GrowAmerica http://1.usa.gov/1pf1LTl 

 

@adamnagourney: A strong argument against jungle primary pointing to strange outcomes in Ca.: @haroldmeyerson rebuts @senschumer. http://wapo.st/UoXtAD 

 

@JohnJHarwood: i’ll interview @HillaryClinton live this morning @OnPointRadio. Airs at 10:40 am but avail anytime after at http://wbur.org 

 

@Noahbierman: Great @mviser story on @BarneyFrank return to Congress (as a visitor) http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2014/07/23/barney-frank-returns-testify-congress-scene-old-friendships-and-few-old-grudges/YSfEnPJzyOLFIFV0Fy0mjN/story.html …

 

@bethreinhard: Mitt Romney turned down Urban League invite in 2012. Rand Paul asked for one. http://on.wsj.com/1nE5DC6 

 

Nominee for Veteran Affairs Secretary Passes Big Test

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former Procter & Gamble executive Robert McDonald is one important step closer to becoming the next secretary of Veteran Affairs, after a Senate panel Wednesday unanimously backed his nomination. The vote was 14-0.

The agreement by both Democrats and Republicans that McDonald is qualified to take over the embattled agency should mean he’ll face little resistance when the full Senate votes to confirm, most likely this week.

McDonald, a former military man as well, told the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that, “Veterans are in need. There is much to do. I can think of no higher calling than to serve our veterans who have so selflessly served our country.”

If confirmed, he promised better communications with VA offices and more transparency with Congress over funding needs.

Meanwhile, members of the House and Senate are working hard to reach a compromise bill that would give the next VA secretary more power to fire subordinates for mismanagement as well as allow vets to seek private care if they can’t get the attention they need from VA clinics.

Although hired for his management skills, P&G had financial problems during McDonald’s tenure as CEO from 2009 through 2013, and he was eventually replaced by the former P&G executive who held the position before him.

McDonald was a West Point graduate, serving five years in the Army, earning the rank of captain, before joining P&G. Recent VA secretaries have been generals and colonels.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Nominee for Veteran Affairs Secretary Passes Big Test

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former Procter & Gamble executive Robert McDonald is one important step closer to becoming the next secretary of Veteran Affairs, after a Senate panel Wednesday unanimously backed his nomination. The vote was 14-0.

The agreement by both Democrats and Republicans that McDonald is qualified to take over the embattled agency should mean he’ll face little resistance when the full Senate votes to confirm, most likely this week.

McDonald, a former military man as well, told the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that, “Veterans are in need. There is much to do. I can think of no higher calling than to serve our veterans who have so selflessly served our country.”

If confirmed, he promised better communications with VA offices and more transparency with Congress over funding needs.

Meanwhile, members of the House and Senate are working hard to reach a compromise bill that would give the next VA secretary more power to fire subordinates for mismanagement as well as allow vets to seek private care if they can’t get the attention they need from VA clinics.

Although hired for his management skills, P&G had financial problems during McDonald’s tenure as CEO from 2009 through 2013, and he was eventually replaced by the former P&G executive who held the position before him.

McDonald was a West Point graduate, serving five years in the Army, earning the rank of captain, before joining P&G. Recent VA secretaries have been generals and colonels.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Report: Montana Senator Walsh Accused of Plagiarism

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(NEW YORK) — Democrats’ chances of retaining the Senate may have taken a major hit Wednesday after allegations of plagiarism were leveled at Montana Senator John Walsh.

As reported by The New York Times, Walsh, who is running for re-election in November, apparently lifted major portions of his thesis to graduate from the United States Army War College in 2007 from other sources available on the Internet.

The Iraq war vet and one-time National Guard adjunct general’s paper on American Middle East policy also lists no attributions.

Although Walsh said he believes he did nothing wrong, an aide to the senator did not dispute the charges of plagiarism, but said it should be taken in the context of his military career, according to the Times.

Walsh spoke later about the brewing scandal, explaining that he committed an unintentional mistake due to post-traumatic stress resulting from his service in Iraq and medication he was taking at the time. He said a fellow veteran’s suicide added to the stress.

Johnson was tapped to replace Montana Senator Max Baucus earlier this year, who became ambassador to China.

However, even before the charges of plagiarism surfaced, polls showed Walsh running behind his Republican opponent, as Democrats try desperately to keep control of the Senate.
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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Report: Montana Senator Walsh Accused of Plagiarism

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(NEW YORK) — Democrats’ chances of retaining the Senate may have taken a major hit Wednesday after allegations of plagiarism were leveled at Montana Senator John Walsh.

As reported by The New York Times, Walsh, who is running for re-election in November, apparently lifted major portions of his thesis to graduate from the United States Army War College in 2007 from other sources available on the Internet.

The Iraq war vet and one-time National Guard adjunct general’s paper on American Middle East policy also lists no attributions.

Although Walsh said he believes he did nothing wrong, an aide to the senator did not dispute the charges of plagiarism, but said it should be taken in the context of his military career, according to the Times.

Walsh spoke later about the brewing scandal, explaining that he committed an unintentional mistake due to post-traumatic stress resulting from his service in Iraq and medication he was taking at the time. He said a fellow veteran’s suicide added to the stress.

Johnson was tapped to replace Montana Senator Max Baucus earlier this year, who became ambassador to China.

However, even before the charges of plagiarism surfaced, polls showed Walsh running behind his Republican opponent, as Democrats try desperately to keep control of the Senate.
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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

House Republicans Announce Recommendations to Address Border Crisis

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans unveiled a plan Wednesday to address the southern border crisis, recommending that the National Guard assist in humanitarian care of the influx of minors entering the country.

House Speaker John Boehner has already called on President Obama to implement the reserve military force, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry already made the decision on his own.

Both Boehner and Perry have not been shy about blaming the president’s policies for inviting the influx of illegal immigrants, and both have stressed how the crisis has taxed both the U.S. Border Patrol and local municipalities that have been dealing with the tens of thousands of people coming across the border.

Following prompting, the president sent a team to Texas to evaluate whether deploying the National Guard would tackle the immigration issues, White House officials confirmed.

Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the House Working Group, announced the committee’s solutions Wednesday.

“Our focus has been to ensure the safety of the children and it has remained a top priority throughout this process,” Granger said in a statement. “In our personal meetings with the Presidents of Honduras and Guatemala they both stated that they wanted their children back, and we believe that is in the best interest of all the countries involved in this crisis. We look forward to working with these countries as they prepare to receive their children back.”

In addition to deploying the National Guard, the group suggested establishing an independent third-party commission to develop border security metrics, along with the creation of repatriation centers in other countries to secure the return of families and unaccompanied minors. Lawmakers also called for tougher penalties for individuals participating in the smuggling of children.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Boehner Honors Doctor Who Saved Lawmaker’s Baby

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

United States House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) — Speaker John Boehner praised a “special guest” on the House floor Wednesday, prompting applause and a standing ovation for a doctor who helped deliver a congresswoman’s baby born with a prenatal condition.

Boehner honored Dr. Jessica Bienstock, the residency program director for the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“In her career, she has delivered nearly 1,000 babies,” Boehner said, at one time wiping his eye. “One of them is well-known to us, and she is Abigail Rose Beutler, who of course is the daughter of our friend.”

The child was born to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and was diagnosed with Potter’s Syndrome, a condition that prevents the development of kidneys and lungs. Beutler held her one-year-old daughter on the floor Wednesday.

“We’re all familiar with Abigail’s story, and the odds that she overcame. If she is a happy, healthy miracle, Dr. Bienstock is the miracle worker who helped give the gift of hope and life to this family,” Boehner said. “I think our House owes a debt of gratitude to her and to all of our doctors, nurses and medical professionals.”

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

GOP NY Governor Candidate to Confront Chris Christie over Remarks on Viability

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images(ASPEN, Colo.) — Expect it to be rocky in Aspen.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is planning on confronting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over comments he made earlier in the week about his campaign’s viability against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

On Monday while campaigning in Connecticut for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, Christie was asked whether he would hit the campaign trail for Astorino and he answered that he, “will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning.”

“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie continued. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.”

Astorino, as well as the New York GOP, were livid. Both he and Christie are now in Aspen, Colorado, for Republican Governors’ Association events and Astorino said he expected to talk to Christie–the RGA chairman–about his comments.  Astorino said he planned already to travel to the area, but an aide said he expected the meeting to be a “frank chat.”

In a conference call, Astorino told reporters he had not seen the New Jersey governor yet, but he plans on seeing him this evening at a group dinner, saying it’s, “the first time we will all be together.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Astorino said, “If Gov. Christie is unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job,” according to the New York Daily News.

He said Wednesday he stood by those comments and he does not believe he has burned any bridges with Christie, and instead the Westchester County Executive thinks, “once he and I have a chance to talk about the campaign and I can fill him in on things he may not know and how we are going to win this race then he may change his mind.”

The purpose of Wednesday’s call was in response to a story on the cover of Wednesday’s New York Times, showing Cuomo had interfered with a commission that attempted to root out corruption in state politics.

Astorino said this development will also make the RGA more interested in supporting his candidacy, noting it could “change perceptions on this race.” He wouldn’t name names, but said other governors already have plans to campaign with him in New York.

“His job as the chairman of the RGA is to help get Republican governors re-elected and Republican candidates for governor elected and it would obviously be very convenient for him to come across the river into New York where he is frequently fundraising and to do things for me in New York and I’m sure that’s what’s going to happen,” he said Wednesday.

In the same press conference, Astorino even speculated Cuomo and Christie were scheming over the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that has engulfed Christie’s administration in New Jersey. He said he doesn’t, “know if there’s a connection between him and Andrew Cuomo on Bridgegate, or if Cuomo has something that he’s holding back, information that could be damaging to the governor.”

“My take is maybe it’s inconvenient to come over the bridge to New York to help a Republican candidate for governor here,” Astorino said. “That’s his call, whether he wants to or not, but as RGA chair he has governors and candidates who have a chance to win … and it’s incumbent upon him to help all of us.”

When asked about it Wednesday, Astorino didn’t go as far, saying, “There’s no secret the Port Authority is represented by the governor of both states and their respective appointees and staff.”

Astorino said he doesn’t feel betrayed and instead he and Christie are “friends,” and he’s “admired” his work as RGA chairman and as governor of the Garden State.

New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox will also be in Aspen. He too chose not to hold his fire saying in a statement this week that he was “disappointed” to hear Christie’s comments and that the New Jersey Governor, “seems to have forgotten from whence he came,” noting Christie’s “underdog challenge” against Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009.

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Soldiers Reunite with Dogs They Served With in Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

They’re the four-legged veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – military war dogs, doing everything from sniffing out explosive devices on the battlefield to providing companionship to soldiers during wartime.

Three of these dogs traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday with the same service members they served with on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan, raising awareness about the need to reunite military war dogs with their handlers.

“This is my best friend. This is my partner. This is my battle buddy,” Army Staff Sgt. Jason Bos told ABC News of his dog Cila. The two partners reunited in April after serving together on nearly 100 missions in Iraq.

“Her and I deployed together, the two of us, so we moved from one base to another, and we worked with people every day we didn’t really know, so this is my friend,” Bos explained. “I wanted her back and I did whatever I could to do that.”

HT jason bos cila jef 140722 16x9 608 Soldiers Reunite with Dogs They Served With in Iraq and Afghanistan

American Humane Association

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant James Harrington was awarded a Bronze Star medal after serving alongside dog Ryky in Afghanistan, where the two helped injured soldiers escape an ambush.

“Both of our training just kicked in and we did what we were trained to do without thinking,” Harrington told ABC News. “She saved me and other soldiers, and now she’s going to continue to save me emotionally as we go along.”

Ryky eventually earned a K9 Medal for Exceptional Service for her actions in Afghanistan.  After reuniting in June, Harrington, who suffers from PTSD, says Ryky will help him on his road to recovery.

HT james harrington ryky jef 140722 16x9 608 Soldiers Reunite with Dogs They Served With in Iraq and Afghanistan

American Humane Association

Since 9/11, over 3,600 dogs have served in the military, with close to 2,000 dogs currently serving through various branches of the military. Earlier this year, the Army said 578 dog teams had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Organizations like the American Humane Association and Mission K9 Rescue are working to reunite many of these service dogs with their battlemates once their service is complete.

“There’ll be a retirement day for each of those dogs,” Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, said. “We want to bring them back with a hero’s welcome.”

 

 

Bipartisan Agreement, at Least on Baseball and Hot Dogs

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

 Bipartisan Agreement, at Least on Baseball and Hot Dogs At least Congress can decide on two things: baseball and hot dogs.

As partisan tensions mount and the August recess fast approaches, Washington lawmakers and their staffers took a break from politics to celebrate National Hot Dog Day. Sure, the border crisis remains unsolved, the House leadership still plans to sue the president and the health plans of millions of American’s may be in jeopardy. But hey, a lawmaker’s got to eat, right?

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National Hot Dog Day, the pinnacle of National Hot Dog Month, is a self-designated holiday by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. While most Americans won’t be getting the day off, it was a chance for lawmakers to sample the fare of hot dog vendors from around the country. And because nothing pairs better with a hot dog than the nation’s pastime, baseball Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey Sr. and Cecil Cooper were there to meet fans and sign autographs.

“There’s nothing more quintessential America than a hot dog and a beer or a coke at the baseball game,” said Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., who serves on the House agriculture committee.

The vendors included Dietz and Watson, Hillshire Brands, Hormel Foods Corp., Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods.

For Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., it was all about the baseball.

“Baseball is America,” said King, who just last week threw out the opening pitch at a minor league game in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I’ve been a baseball fan my whole life. To me, I’m sort of going back 60 years in time right now.”

King got autographs from the Hall of Famers for his grandson and said he was most thrilled to meet Steve Carlton, a man he says “had all the ability that I never had and wanted to have.”

There was no taking sides today — no politicking or finger-pointing. Republicans and Democrats alike reached for the mustard and ketchup, the sauerkraut and chili. But it’s not clear whether that unity will extend past the lunch hour.

Former first baseman Cecil Cooper said he couldn’t believe how many congressmen wanted his autograph. “It’s great to have people remember you, remember the days when you played,” he said.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., who plays on the congressional baseball team, said today’s event brought him back to his childhood days of watching these Hall of Famers play.

“We’re all still kids when it comes to baseball,” Fleischmann said.

More than 1,100 guests were at today’s event.

 

Former President Harding’s Love Letters to Mistress May Actually Help His Image, Historians Say

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The now notorious love letters of former President Warren Harding ironically may be the basis of a belated campaign to improve the image of the man generally considered to be one of the country’s worst leaders.

Harding’s grandnephew Richard Harding made the case before a packed Library of Congress assembly Tuesday by saying, “It is with some ambivalence, but with a sense of history, that we are present.”

Richard Harding and a battery of historians and archivists said Tuesday that the salacious letters – some of them 40 pages long – give new insight to the man who has been called America’s worst president.

“Warren Harding doesn’t need protecting. He needs honest and hard-working historians to tell the story like they see it,” Richard Harding told the gathering.

The roughly thousand pages were written by Harding between 1910 and 1920 to Carrie Phillips, when he was lieutenant governor of Ohio and a U.S. senator. They were found in 1964 but protected by the Harding family, which gave the collection to the Library of Congress on the condition that they be held in a safe for 50 years. The letters will become available to the public next Tuesday.

The panel included James Robenalt, author of The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War; James Hutson, chief of the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress; Library of Congress archivist Karen Femia; and Richard Harding.

Robenalt, who published a smaller trove of microfilms of Harding letters in his book in 2009, referred to the correspondence as “one of the great stories of the 20th century.”

The allure of the letters centers on Harding’s often explicit relationship with Phillips, who Robenalt ventures was a German spy who managed to discourage Harding from running for president in 1916, right in the middle of World War I. The affair ended when Phillips blackmailed Harding after he entered the White House in 1921.

A sampling of the letters Robenalt discovered at the Western Reserve Historical Society gives an indication as to what’s coming next Tuesday, when historians can start crafting what could be an entirely new portrait of the former president. In one letter to Phillips on Sept. 15, 1913, Harding writes, “I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips.” On Jan. 5 the same year, he wrote: “…so I got up, had a luxurious bath and donned my bathrobe in which to breakfast. Three weeks ago [the robe] touched and covered your beautiful form, and that made it hallowed to me, and I wanted contact with it, to make me seem nearer to you.”

The standard interpretation of Harding was that he was “an intelligent man, too trusting of his cronies, too passive as a leader…and too passive for a nation that needed activist leadership,” as the historian Gary Alan Fine put it. His administration is notorious for the Teapot Dome scandal, an oil leasing scandal that consumed one of Harding’s top cabinet members.

The panel Tuesday argued that his image is still much more imprecise than most historians assume.

Femia claimed the legacy “was like an empty room, an echo chamber for rumor, gossip, and absolute fabrication.” Hutson agreed, using his introduction as something of a call to those in the room to fill the gaps in Harding scholarship.

“It’s astonishing the amount of misinformation about Harding, and everyone connected to him,” Hutson added. “The question arises: what’s wrong with the picture here? Why didn’t historians correct this stuff?”

The letters may reveal that Harding’s infatuation with Phillips delayed his ascension to the White House, and perhaps caused an entirely different outcome to the Great War and the trajectory of 20th-century American history since, at Phillips’ urging, he wanted to keep America out of the war.

“Had Harding become president in 1916, and he had a good chance to do so, the world would have been a lot different,” Robenalt said. “The world changed because of this relationship.”

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Harding’s Love Letters to Mistress May Actually Help His Image, Historians Say

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GTY warren harding blur h jt 140722 16x9 608 Hardings Love Letters to Mistress May Actually Help His Image, Historians Say

(Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The now notorious love letters of former President Warren Harding may ironically be the basis of a belated campaign to improve the image of the  man generally considered to be one of the country’s worst presidents.

Harding’s grandnephew Richard Harding made the case before a packed Library of Congress assembly Tuesday by saying, “It is with some ambivalence, but with a sense of history, that we are present.”

Richard Harding and a battery of historians and archivists said Tuesday that the salacious letters – some of them 40 pages long – give new insight to the man who has been called America’s worst president.

“Warren Harding doesn’t need protecting. He needs honest and hard-working historians to tell the story like they see it,” Richard Harding told the gathering.

The roughly thousand pages were written by Harding between 1910 and 1920 to Carrie Phillips, when Harding was lieutenant governor of Ohio and a U.S. senator. They were found in 1964 but protected by the Harding family, which gave the collection to the Library of Congress on the condition that they be held in a safe for 50 years. The letters will become available to the public next Tuesday.

The panel included James Robenalt, author of The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War, James Hutson, chief of the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, Library of Congress archivist Karen Femia, and Richard Harding.

Robenalt, who published a smaller trove of microfilms of Harding letters in his book in 2009, referred to the correspondence as “one of the great stories of the 20th century.”

The allure of the letters centers on Harding’s often explicit relationship with Phillips, who Robenalt ventures was a German spy who managed to discourage Harding from running for president in 1916, right in the middle of World War I. The affair ended when Phillips blackmailed Harding after entering the White House in 1921.

A sampling of the letters Robenalt discovered at the Western Reserve Historical Society gives an indication as to what’s coming next Tuesday when historians can start crafting what could be an entirely new portrait of Harding. In one letter to Phillips on Sept. 15, 1913, Harding writes, “I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips.” On Jan. 5 the same year, he wrote to Phillips: “…so I got up, had a luxurious bath and donned my bathrobe in which to breakfast. Three weeks ago [the robe] touched and covered your beautiful form, and that made it hallowed to me, and I wanted contact with it, to make me seem nearer to you.”

The standard interpretation of Harding was that he was “an intelligent man, too trusting of his cronies, too passive as a leader…and too passive for a nation that needed activist leadership,” as the historian Gary Alan Fine put it. Harding’s administration is notorious for the Teapot Dome scandal, an oil leasing scandal that consumed one of Harding’s top cabinet members.

The panel Tuesday argued that his image is still much more imprecise than most historians assume.

Femia claimed that Harding’s legacy “was like an empty room, an echo chamber for rumor, gossip, and absolute fabrication.” Hutson agreed, using his introduction as something of a call to those in the room to fill the gaps in Harding scholarship.

“It’s astonishing the amount of misinformation about Harding, and everyone connected to him,” Hutson added. “The question arises: what’s wrong with the picture here? Why didn’t historians correct this stuff?”

The letters may reveal that Harding’s infatuation with Phillips delayed his ascension to the White House, and perhaps caused an entirely different outcome to the Great War and the trajectory of 20th-century American history since Harding, at Phillips’ urging, wanted to keep America out of the war.

“Had Harding become president in 1916, and he had a good chance to do so, the world would have been a lot different,” Robenalt said. “The world changed because of this relationship.”

 

 

A Conservative Thriller? ‘Persecuted’ Director Aims For Mainstream

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

The next D.C. political suspense movie isn’t what you’d expect.

The forthcoming “Persecuted” is  a lowbudget affair with some heavy political themes that appeal to conservatives and that its creator hopes will find a broader audience.

The thriller explores themes of government censorship, conspiracy theories, free speech, and religious faith in the face of government suppression. It features former Republican presidential candidate, senator, and “Law and Order” star Fred Thompson and Fox News host Gretchen Carlson – -which may give it, at first glance, a conservative flavor.

The film follows a fictional evangelical preacher framed for murder for refusing to support a bill concerning religion. It was screened in March at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the D.C. area, where it appealed to the conservative audience.

But its creator and director, 30-year-old Daniel Lusko, says the themes of “Persecuted” are universal.

“Absolutely the film describes what’s at stake when religious freedoms are compromised, and these are values that we hold, I think, no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on,” Lusko told ABC News in a recent phone interview. “I’m an independent. I don’t stand on either aisle, but I certainly want this film to play for all people.”

The son of an evangelical pastor, Lusko hails from Colorado Springs and said he has primarily made documentaries to this point. Previously, Lusko made a 2007 documentary entitled “Epicenter,” about Middle East geopolitics, based on the 2006 book of the same name by Joel C. Rosenberg.

Lusko said he developed “Persecuted” from a dream he had five years ago about a “man running through the woods. He had been framed for murder and he was trying to prove the truth … he was an evangelist, standing up for what he believed was the truth–he was like a Billy Graham–and he had been framed by a Senate majority leader who was at the time a close colleague of his who was trying to pass this fictional legislation called the Faith and Fairness Act.”

“Persecuted” was reportedly funded by Kansas venture capitalist Jerry Simmons, but that is a  detail Lusko would not confirm, declining to discuss the film’s backers. Simmons is listed,  however, as an executive producer and Simmons told the Deseret News for a story in Feburary that he “loved the script — it’s an avenue to reach a lot of people … I think this movie is going to be hugely successful.”

While Thompson and Carlson may have identifiable politics, and while some of the film’s producers may hold conservative ideologies,  Luskowas wary that “Persecuted” would be seen as a partisan movie.

“I want it to be more mainstream than it actually is,” Lusko said. He noted that the film “addresses the vulnerabilities both of the political world, but also of the religious world,” as the plot involves corruption and betrayal within the protagonist’s evangelical organization.

Lusko acknowledged that conservatives’ concern about censorship and government overreach may help his ticket sales.

“It helps sell the movie more that there are conservatives that are really worried about their freedoms, but once you actually watch the content of the movie … you’ll see that it deals with the potential institutional corruption in religious institutions as well, so it is really a more balanced experience,” Lusko said.

In addition to other premieres across the country, “Persecuted” will premiere in New York on Friday at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Eats Pizza in Italy with a Fork

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NAPLES, Italy) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just can’t break his fork habit.

The mayor was caught again using the utensil to eat pizza — this time during lunch with his family in Naples, Italy — while on vacation.

“Naples is a place that I like very much,” the mayor told reporters as he got off a ferry from the island of Capri.

De Blasio, who’s currently on an eight-day trip across Italy, arrived in Naples Wednesday morning to much fanfare.  He was not asked about why he used a fork to eat his pizza.

New Yorkers may have different opinions on many issues, but the one thing on which they can agree is how you devour a slice of pizza: you fold it, you eat it and you walk.

Of course, this is not the first time de Blasio has committed the fork faux pas. While visiting Staten Island in January — just a week after taking office — he first ate a slice of pizza with a fork, then switched to his hands, and ultimately back to a fork during lunch at Goodfellas Pizza.

Foodies blasted him for violating the ultimate rule of eating pizza in New York City: no matter how greasy the pizza, you always use your hands.

At the time, de Blasio argued that he was just being authentic and he picked up the pizza-with-utensils habit while visiting his “ancestral homeland.”

However, even native Italians find eating pizza with a fork questionable.

“I would say a real Neapolitan eats pizza with the hands,” said Adolfo Gatti, a native of Rome told ABC News. “But utensils aren’t frowned upon.”

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Despite Cameo, Ted Cruz Not a "True Blood" Fan

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) — He may have landed a cameo on the hit show, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is apparently not a fan of HBO’s True Blood.

Following a particularly grisly episode featuring Republicans murdered at a Ted Cruz fundraiser, the Tea Party darling blasted the show as “misogynist and profanity-ridden.”

“Well, I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends,” Cruz wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

The episode, laced with tasteless (but admittedly creative) nicknames for Republicans, depicts guests cowering behind a Cruz poster dramatically ripped down by flying bullets.

The senator went even further on Twitter:

 

Then again, I guess I never had a chance w/ the vampire vote since the dead tend to vote overwhelmingly for Dems: https://t.co/U6uCqsRpuS

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 22, 2014

 

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Why Kerry Could Fly into Tel Aviv Despite FAA Flight Ban

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

State Department photo/ Public Domain(WASHINGTON) — Just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a temporary Federal Aviation Administration ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv was in the best interest of Americans, Kerry himself flew into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

The FAA’s prohibition does not apply to military aircraft, including the 757 Kerry is flying on. Plus, Kerry traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu and others as part of his efforts to bring about a cease-fire to the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

“Secretary Kerry is on the ground to continue his efforts to achieve a ceasefire and bring an end to the rocket attacks that led to the FAA notice,” she wrote in a statement.

The U.S. flight ban for Ben Gurion Airport went into effect Tuesday after a rocket from Hamas struck ground about a mile from the airport. It only affects U.S. carriers and has no effect on foreign airlines, but after the U.S. announcement, numerous foreign air carriers announced they would also suspend flights into the Israeli airport.

Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Kerry Tuesday night and urged him to help call off the ban. But according to Psaki, Kerry explained that the ban was intended only to keep Americans safe, not to discourage anyone from traveling to Israel.

“The only consideration in issuing the notice was the safety and security of our citizens,” Psaki said.

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Despite Cameo, Ted Cruz Not a ‘True Blood’ Fan

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

AP ted cruz jef 131018 16x9 608 Despite Cameo, Ted Cruz Not a True Blood Fan

(Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

He may have landed a cameo on the hit show, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is apparently not a fan of HBO’s “True Blood.”

The Curious Case of L.A.’s Tattooed Ted Cruz Posters

Ted Cruz and Canada Officially Part Ways

Following a particularly grizzly episode featuring Republicans murdered at a Ted Cruz fundraiser, the tea party darling blasted the show as “misogynist and profanity-ridden.”

“Well, I’m sorry to have lost the vampire vote, but am astonished (and amused) that HBO is suggesting that hard-core leftists are blood-sucking fiends,” Cruz wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

The episode, laced with tasteless (but admittedly creative) nicknames for Republicans, depicts guests cowering behind a Cruz poster dramatically ripped down by flying bullets.

The senator went even further on Twitter:

Then again, I guess I never had a chance w/ the vampire vote since the dead tend to vote overwhelmingly for Dems: https://t.co/U6uCqsRpuS

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 22, 2014

Good news for Sen. Cruz: What with all this vampire tweeting, Cruz has probably picked up the Twilight-obsessed teen girl vote.

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People Keep Trying to Sneak Guns Into the US Capitol

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC capitol jtm 131014 16x9 608 People Keep Trying to Sneak Guns Into the US Capitol

               (Photo Credit: ABC News)

A man was arrested this morning attempting to enter the Cannon House Office Building with a firearm, U.S. Capitol Police said.

“A firearm was recovered as a result of an administrative search at the rotunda door of the Cannon House Office Building,” police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed, adding that the incident occurred at about 9:20 a.m.

Today’s incident follows a similar one Friday when a congressional staffer attempted to enter the same building and was charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Last week’s event occurred at the South East Door of the Cannon House Office Building at about the same time in the morning.

FLASHBACK: Congressional Staffer Arrested With Gun on Capitol Hill

The defendant arrested today is not a congressional staffer and is being processing at Capitol Police headquarters, Antrobus said.

He was unable to say whether the officers involved in today’s arrest were the same ones who last week snagged a Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol and magazine from Ryan Shucard, press secretary to Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa.

Ready for Warren? Senator Says She’s Not Ready to Run

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Are you ready for Warren?

That’s the question supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren are asking with the recent formation of a Ready for Warren Super PAC, which is taking a page from Ready for Hillary in laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign should the Massachusetts Democrat decide to run in 2016.

Though many of her fans are cheering “Run, Liz, Run,” Warren is putting the brakes on such enthusiasm.

“I am not running,” Warren told ABC News when asked if she’s mulling the idea of a presidential bid. It’s the same answer she always gives — in the present tense. She doesn’t rule out whether she would ever run.

“I am focused on the 2014 elections,” she said. “We’ve got an election coming up … just a few months away — that’s what we need to work on.”

As for her admirers calling for her to get in the race, Warren is keeping her distance.

“I do not support this,” she said.

To make clear that her focus is on the 2014 midterm elections, Warren has been crisscrossing the nation in recent months, campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates who wish to align themselves with her populist message calling for economic reforms on behalf of the middle class.

The Massachusetts Democrat has ventured into some deeply conservative states, including West Virginia and Kentucky. But Warren dismisses the suggestion that her message fires up only liberals.

“The kinds of economic issues that I’m talking about, it’s not Republican or Democrat,” she said. “People are getting hammered everywhere, and they care about these central ways that we can rebuild America’s middle class: equal pay for equal work, reduce the interest rate on student loans, raise the minimum wage. … And I love being in Kentucky to talk about this and to be in West Virginia, standing up with great candidates like Natalie Tennant and Alison Lundergan Grimes.“

Though Warren has been an outspoken critic of the way business is done in Washington — even ways that are critical of her own party — she denies that her tough talk is causing tensions within the Democratic Party.

“I’ll tell you where the tensions are, the tensions are with the Republicans,” Warren said. “We want working people to earn more, we want to reduce the interest rate on student loans, we want to stitch up the loop holes that let millionaires and billionaires pay at lower tax rates than their secretaries; that’s the stuff we’re working on, and Republicans have filibustered every single piece of it.”

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Obama Cashes In Out West

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • IN THE MONEY: President Obama wakes up in San Francisco this morning and has a full day of fundraising on the West Coast, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. Today, the president attends a House Majority PAC event in San Francisco, followed by a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee event in Los Altos. The president then travels to Los Angeles to attend another fundraiser for the DNC. Press Secretary Josh Earnest yesterday defended the president’s decision to spend three days fundraising in the midst of several international crises and pushed back against criticism that it sends the wrong message. “The President, like most professionals, has the capability to deal with more than one priority at a time, and particularly, somebody who has the trappings of the presidency alongside him,” he said. ”He’s got his own airplane. He’s got dedicated phone lines. He has senior advisors who will be accompanying him every step of the way to make sure that he has access to the information and technology necessary to represent American interests in the midst of these challenging international times.”
  • THE WHITE HOUSE HAS ALREADY SHIFTED PLANS: The president considered taping an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel LIVE” while in L.A., but the White House decided it was not the right time “in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the President is dealing with in the international scene,” Earnest said.
  • WHAT’S IN A NAME? Say goodbye to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and hello to the NRSC. The committee is ditching its formal name, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY reports, and will soon be known simply by its initials. It’s the political equivalent of Kentucky Fried Chicken officially becoming KFC. GOP senators were told about the change during a political briefing Tuesday at the NRSC. So what’s behind it? First, it saves a few precious seconds in the committee’s TV ads. But even more, the change marks the committee formally becoming a nonprofit corporation — like the Democratic committees did long ago — to create a corporate shield to protect people from being personally liable for unpaid campaign debts. The NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring tells ABC News: “The incorporation was a long overdue change that was made predominantly for legal liability reasons, but if doing so creates an additional second or two at the end of an ad to drive message, well gravy.”

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

READY FOR WARREN? EVEN IF YOU ARE, THE SENATOR SAYS SHE’S NOT. Are you ready for Warren? That’s the question supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren are asking with the recent formation of a Ready for Warren Super PAC, which is taking a page from Ready for Hillary in laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign should the Massachusetts Democrat decide to run in 2016. Though many of her fans are cheering “Run, Liz, Run,” Warren is putting the brakes on such enthusiasm.  “I am not running,” Warren told ABC’s JEFF ZELENY, host of “The Fine Print,” when asked if she’s mulling the idea of a presidential bid. It’s the same answer she always gives — in the present tense. She doesn’t rule out whether she would ever run. “I am focused on the 2014 elections,” she said. “We’ve got an election coming up … just a few months away — that’s what we need to work on.” WATCH: yhoo.it/UsmV85

 

–FYI: SIX TOP DEMOCRATS WHO AREN’T SO READY FOR HILLARY. Hillary Clinton has remained coy on her potential presidential candidacy in 2016, but that hasn’t stopped Democrats from endorsing her. The Ready For Hillary Super PAC has been in full swing organizing Clinton supporters, and in January 60 congressmen said they would endorse her if she were to run. Some major Democrats have  spoken out against endorsing Clinton too early, including a few who indicated they may challenge her for the nomination.  From Deval Patrick to Brian Schweitzer, ABC’s NOAH WEILAND has the scoop on six prominent Dems who aren’t (quite) ready for Hillary. http://abcn.ws/1sLqtBn

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: There’s nothing unusual about President Obama’s public schedule for Wednesday – and that’s the point. On the West Coast in the middle of the week, the president will be attending three fundraisers, walled off from the press almost entirely. (The first event is for the House Majority PAC, which is, of course, a Democratic Super PAC.) That’s it. He’ll be working plenty in between, surely, and White House aides are right in pointing out that multitasking is what the presidency is all about. But to pretend that this White House doesn’t care about optics is nonsensical. And the decision to maintain a brisk weekday fundraising schedule in this world environment – a plane blown out of the sky over Ukraine, American planes not being allowed to land at all in Tel Aviv – sends what message that’s helpful to President Obama?

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: Could Congress really go away for the entire month of August without doing anything to address the border crisis? Yes, Democrats and Republicans increasingly believe. Yes. Democrats are refusing to change the 2008 law that has contributed to a wave of migrants coming across the border from Central America. Republicans say they won’t approve President Obama’s emergency spending request without revising the broader immigration law. But this episode of Capitol Hill gridlock goes far beyond typical partisan lines. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has pleaded — in public and private — for a change in the law. Democrats simply disagree with him, saying the administration has the authority to make the changes under existing law. The big question now: Will the president weigh in and urge Democrats to listen to Johnson? So far, he hasn’t. And there are six more days on the Congressional calendar before they leave town for the summer.

ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The Florida governor’s race–one of the closest watched this cycle–has an unforeseen crinkle in it, according to a new Quinnipiac poll out this morning.  Republican Gov. Rick Scott trails former Gov. Charlie Crist–previously a Republican now a Democrat–by a narrow 45 to 40 percent in a head to head match up. But, when the libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is added in, the race becomes too close to call with 39 percent for Crist, 37 percent for Scott, and 9 percent for Wyllie.  Wyllie gets his strongest support from independent voters who back Crist over Scott 45 to 38 percent in a two-way matchup, but split with 36 percent for Crist, 34 percent for Scott, and 12 percent for Wyllie when it becomes a the three-way race. Wyllie won’t become the next governor of Florida, but as Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipac poll said, “He may have a great deal to say about who does win.” Voters give Scott a negative 43 to 48 percent approval rating, which is actually one of his best scores since he became governor four years ago, and a negative 40 to 45 percent favorability. As for Crist, he gets a 40 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable.

 

BUZZ

with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON

INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS PRESENT EVIDENCE FOR HOW MALAYSIAN PLANE WAS SHOT DOWN. Senior U.S. intelligence officials presented evidence Tuesday that they say makes a “solid case” as to why the U.S. believes a Russian made SA-11 missile fired from separatist-held eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ reports. While the leading theory is that Russian separatists brought down the plane, the U.S. intelligence community still cannot determine who pulled the trigger or why. The officials pointed the finger at Russia for having “created the conditions” behind the shoot-down and labeled as “not plausible” new Russian claims that the plane may have been brought down by a Ukrainian fighter jet. In a briefing with reporters, senior intelligence officials pointed to a variety of evidence, including the detection of a surface-to-air missile launch from a separatist-held area of eastern Ukraine. They cited Russian training of separatists in air defense systems, though not necessarily the SA-11, and Russian separatists having used other air defense systems to bring down 12 aircraft in recent months. http://abcn.ws/1kb1aWN

JOHN KERRY: EGYPTIAN CEASE-FIRE PLAN STILL WORKABLE. Secretary of State John Kerry said his first full day of meetings here to discuss a resolution to the Israeli-Hamas violence was “constructive” but there were no immediate signs of any progress towards a cease-fire, according to ABC’s ALI WEINBERG. As he has for the past few days, Kerry reiterated that the United States believes that a proposal released by Egypt for an immediate end to hostilities is the best way forward, and that only Hamas is left to sign on to that plan. “While we still obviously have work to do, it’s also clear to me from each of the parties that I’ve met with that there is a framework available to end the violence. And that framework is the Egyptian initiative that has been put forward,” he said. Kerry made those remarks while addressing reporters at the Egyptian presidential palace where he met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. http://abcn.ws/1p6V1XL

PRE-TEENS ACCOUNT FOR SHARPEST SPIKE IN UNACCOMPANIED CHILD MIGRANTS. Children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without parents are increasingly younger, according to newly released figures by the Pew Research Center, ABC’s JIM AVILA and SERENA MARSHALL report. Sixteen percent of the minors who’ve crossed illegally and unaccompanied in fiscal year 2014, ending Sept. 30, were 12 and younger, compared with 9 percent in the same nine-month period for the previous year, Pew found.  The remaining 84 percent of unaccompanied minors who’ve crossed this year were teenagers. The change from last year so far represents a 117 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied kids 12 and younger making the dangerous trek.”The big message here is that when looking at who is crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and being apprehended, a growing number are young children,” Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s director of Hispanic research, told ABC News. The majority of children this year have come from Honduras, followed by Guatemala and El Salvador. Mexico, which normally leads, comes in fourth. http://abcn.ws/WBDHUg

JOE BIDEN’S DJ NEPHEW IS TAKING THE MUSIC INDUSTRY BY STORM. There’s an up-and-coming D.J. on the New York scene, ABC’s BETSY KLEIN notes. He spins at Montauk hotspot the Surf Lodge, Hamptons parties hosted by club promoter Ronnie Flynn, and “Saturday Night Live” after-parties. Oh, and his uncle happens to be the vice president. Jamie Biden, 32, is taking the music industry by storm. The New York Times reported that in addition to D.J. gigs on the New York circuit, he is working on an album. The long-haired Biden, who was once described as “more White Stripes than White House,” is also the lead guitarist for rock band Bloody Social. Vice President Joe Biden is the brother of his father, James Biden Sr. The vice president’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Jamie Biden’s music career. Biden, 32, said that although he attended his uncle’s inauguration, he has yet to play for him. “He has more important things to do, at the moment, than coming to see me play, for now,” he told the Times. http://abcn.ws/1rpGXx2

THE TERMINATOR AND CHUCK SCHUMER HAVE FOUND SOMETHING TO AGREE ON. Seems like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former movie star and Republican governor of California, and Chuck Schumer, the long-time Democratic senator from New York, wouldn’t have much in common, ABC’s CALEB JACKSON reports. Turns out, they both see eye to eye on at least one issue: Open primaries. Schwarzenegger publicly tweeted his support for Schumer on Wednesday after the senator penned an Op-Ed for The New York Times suggesting that the country should adopt a Congressional open primary election system to reduce the polarization currently plaguing Congress. On Twitter, Schwarzenegger applauded Schumer’s stance. Schwarzenegger’s home state of California has used the non-partisan, open primary system since 2010. Washington State uses an open primary election system too, along with Louisiana where the system is sometimes referred to as a “jungle primary.” According to Schumer, California was virtually a magnetic field for political polarization until voters decided to adopt the open primary system in 2010. http://abcn.ws/1nbSOxr

‘NSA IN DA HOUSE’: STATE DEPT. DOESN’T OBJECT. German artist Oliver Bienkowski probably wasn’t seeking the U.S. government’s approval when he projected onto the U.S. embassy in Berlin, early last Saturday, the words “NSA in da House” beside a peace sign and an image of President Obama wearing a backwards baseball cap. But the U.S. State Department, while it disagrees with the message, says it’s okay with the act, according to ABC’s CHRIS GOOD. “Well, I strongly disagree with the message in it, but support the ability of people to freely express that message,” State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at Tuesday’s daily press briefing. They were the first substantive comments the State Dept. had offered on the act. The U.S. and Germany have had some recent diplomatic tensions over American spy policy. Last fall, it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone conversations, sparking public backlash in Germany. This month, Germany reportedly expelled the top U.S. spy in the country, after German media reported on two incidents of Germans suspected of passing German government or intelligence secrets to the U.S. http://abcn.ws/1ltwZVJ

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUTS AT THE WHITE HOUSE: THEN AND NOW. Legendary moonwalker Buzz Aldrin may have been “out of town” when the world celebrated Apollo 11-s lunar landing, but he marked the anniversary yesterday with a presidential handshake and a meeting in the Oval Office — the same spot from whence President Nixon made that famous interplanetary telephone call to the moon 45 years ago, notes ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY. Nixon called the date July 20, 1969 — the day Aldrin, 39, and Neil Armstrong, 38, stepped off the Apollo 11 lunar module and onto the moon —  the “proudest day of our lives.” Four months later — following a 21-day quarantine procedure designed to shield Earth from possible lunar pathogens and a 24-country “good will tour” meant to demonstrate the United States’ willingness to share its lunar expertise — the Apollo 11 team visited the president at the White House. http://abcn.ws/UqbuxN

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@WilliamsJon: Interesting read. Challenge for Kerry, how to achieve ceasefire, improve plight of #Gaza while not rewarding Hamas. http://nyti.ms/1nSFFVu 

@JesseFFerguson: The HIll — “DCCC Chairman Steve Israel Op-Ed: Democrats, Republicans have a stark contrast in priorities” http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/213049-democrats-republicans-have-a-stark-contrast-in-priorities#ixzz38F7RfSgg …

@kakukowski: New From @RNCResearch: An Ethically-Challenged Leader http://www.gop.com/?p=26678  #FireReid

@jeneps: Looking forward to the @Schultz44 on-camera press briefings http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/eric-schultz-white-house-109269.html …

@realDonaldTrump: Going to D.C. for big groundbreaking on Old Post Office site. Will be spectacular new hotel. Lots of jobs!

Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on Health Care Law

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News (WASHINGTON) — After a brief hiatus, the hot debate over the Affordable Care Act was renewed once again Tuesday because of two opposite verdicts on subsidies.

In the first decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the federal government cannot subsidize policies through federally run insurance exchanges.

Later, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia said that subsidies set up in dozens of states that didn’t set up marketplaces under the ACA are indeed legal.

While the conflicting decisions put the future of the health care law, called “Obamacare” by its detractors, into question, the 4.5 million people who qualified for subsidies are still eligible for benefits while the White House appeals the D.C. court ruling.

More than eight million Americans signed up for the ACA. Those who did so through state exchanges won’t be affected by either ruling.

Meanwhile, the law’s opponents seized on the first court’s decision as proof that the ACA will ultimately fail. House Speaker John Boehner said, “Today’s ruling is also further proof that President Obama’s health care law is completely unworkable. It cannot be fixed.”

However, proponents like Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center, says the second ruling got it right, adding, “The available tax credits are essential to filling the Affordable Care Act’s primary goals of assuring widespread coverage in the health care market and that Congress was fully aware of this when drafting the bill.”

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Run the Government Like a Business, Most Say

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Architect of the Capitol(NEW YORK) — Americans haven’t exactly been thrilled with Big Business since the Great Recession, but when push comes to shove, most would rather see people with business experience run the country than career politicians.

A new Gallup poll says that just over eight in ten Americans feel that way. Meanwhile, 63 percent believe that the U.S. would be better governed if there were more women holding political office.

As for how to burst the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington for years, 63 percent of the respondents believe it is more important to compromise, while 56 percent think that holding firm to principles should be the top priority.

In terms of ideology, about 60 percent say electing political moderates is the way to go, with 47 percent preferring conservatives and only a third choosing liberals.

Putting the Tea Party in charge ranked slightly higher than liberals, although 48 percent say that they would make things even worse.

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Intelligence Officials Present Evidence for How Malaysian Plane Was Shot Down

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

 

HT MH 17 mar 140722 16x9 608 Intelligence Officials Present Evidence for How Malaysian Plane Was Shot Down

(U.S. intelligence community)

Senior U.S. intelligence officials presented evidence today that they say makes a “solid case” as to why the U.S. believes a Russian made SA-11 missile fired from separatist-held eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week.

While the leading theory is that Russian separatists brought down the plane, the U.S. intelligence community still cannot determine who pulled the trigger or why. The officials pointed the finger at Russia for having “created the conditions” behind the shoot-down and labeled as “not plausible” new Russian claims that the plane may have been brought down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.

In a briefing with reporters, senior intelligence officials pointed to a variety of evidence, including the detection of a surface-to-air missile launch from a separatist-held area of eastern Ukraine. They cited Russian training of separatists in air defense systems, though not necessarily the SA-11, and Russian separatists having used other air defense systems to bring down 12 aircraft in recent months.

They also noted images posted on social media showing an SA-11 missile system near the area of that launch and one system headed towards Russia missing at least one missile in the hours after the shoot down.

Though the images are not independently verifiable, the officials say they complement their intelligence. The officials also pointed to postings to social media in which separatists bragged about the shoot-down and which were quickly deleted.

One of the officials said photographs taken at the crash site show damage to the plane’s skin that is “consistent” with that seen from shrapnel from a surface-to-air missile system.

Another official said the evidence made “a solid case it was an SA-11 fired from eastern Ukraine under conditions created by Russia.”

The leading theory is that Russian separatists were behind the launch, probably by mistake by an “ill-trained crew,” officials said, they are still trying to determine precisely who fired the missile.

“We don’t know the rank, we don’t know the name, we don’t know the nationality of the individual who pulled the trigger or why they did it,” said the official.

The U.S. intelligence community is still trying to determine whether the trigger-puller was a Russian, a separatist trained by Russia or possibly a volunteer familiar with the missile system from the Ukrainian military and who may have joined the separatists.

The officials discounted as “not plausible” a new Russian narrative released Monday that presented the possibility that a nearby Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet may have downed the airliner.

One official said the fighter is a ground-attack aircraft not equipped with air-to-air missiles and was flying too far away from the plane at the time.  The official added that the plane would have had to travel a great distance to track the plane and then would have had to persuade Russian separatists to brag on social media that they had shot the plane down. The official described the Russian narrative as “a classic case of blaming the victims.”

The officials acknowledged that U.S. intelligence did not know until the day of the shoot-down that Russian separatists were in possession of an SA-11 system. The U.S. was aware that separatists had received air defense training at a large training facility in southwestern Russia outside of Rostov, but it was not specific to the SA-11 system.

 

‘NSA in da House’: State Dept. Doesn’t Object

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GTY nsa germany mar 140722 16x9 608 NSA in da House: State Dept. Doesnt Object

The facade of the US embassy is illuminated with a light installation by German artist Oliver Bienkowski showing an image of US President Barack Obama wearing a baseball cap and reading "NSA in da House" in Berlin is seen July 19, 2014. Image credit: Soeren Stache/AFP/Getty Images

German artist Oliver Bienkowski probably wasn’t seeking the U.S. government’s approval when he projected onto the U.S. embassy in Berlin, early last Saturday, the words “NSA in da House” beside a peace sign and an image of President Obama wearing a backwards baseball cap.

But the U.S. State Department, while it disagrees with the message, says it’s okay with the act.

“Well, I strongly disagree with the message in it, but support the ability of people to freely express that message,” State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at Tuesday’s daily press briefing.

They were the first substantive comments the State Dept. had offered on the act.

The U.S. and Germany have had some recent diplomatic tensions over American spy policy. Last fall, it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone conversations, sparking public backlash in Germany. This month, Germany reportedly expelled the top U.S. spy in the country, after German media reported on two incidents of Germans suspected of passing German government or intelligence secrets to the U.S.

On July 13, Secretary of State John Kerry met with his German counterpart in Vienna, discussing “bilateral issues” along with a host of other matters including Iran’s nuclear program, the focus of international meetings in Vienna that weekend.

On Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough met with his German counterpart, Merkel chief of staff Peter Altmaier, along with Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Lisa Monaco and Gunter Heiss, the German intelligence chief, in Berlin, to follow up on a conversation between President Obama and Merkel on intelligence and security matters, the White House said Tuesday.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Schumer Have Found Something to Agree On

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Nathaniel Chadwick/NBC(NEW YORK) — Seems like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former movie star and Republican governor of California, and Chuck Schumer, the long-time Democratic senator from New York, wouldn’t have much in common.

Turns out, they both see eye to eye on at least one issue: Open primaries.

Schwarzenegger publicly tweeted his support for Schumer on Wednesday after the senator penned an Op-Ed for The New York Times suggesting that the country should adopt a Congressional open primary election system to reduce the polarization currently plaguing Congress.

On Twitter, Schwarzenegger appaluded Schumer’s stance, writing “I couldn’t agree more” and “Fantastic to see @SenSchumer supporting top-two primary. Let’s get it done & break up the status quo of gridlock.”

What exactly was it about Schumer’s piece that caught Schwarzenegger’s attention?

The New York Democrat outlined what he believes to be the direct effects of the current primary election system and floated this recommendation:

“We need a national movement to adopt the ‘top-two’ primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.”

Schwarzenegger’s home state of California has used the non-partisan, open primary system since 2010. Washington State uses an open primary election system too, along with Louisiana where the system is sometimes referred to as a “jungle primary.”

According to Schumer, California was virtually a magnetic field for political polarization until voters decided to adopt the open primary system in 2010. He wrote, “The move has had a moderating influence on both parties and a salutary effect on the political system and its ability to govern.”

And Schumer later tweeted back his appreciation for Schwarzenegger’s endorsement.

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The Terminator and Chuck Schumer Have Found Something to Agree on

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Seems like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former movie star and Republican governor of California, and Chuck Schumer, the long-time Democratic senator from New York, wouldn’t have much in common.

Turns out, they both see eye to eye on at least one issue: Open primaries.

Schwarzenegger publicly tweeted his support for Schumer on Wednesday after the senator penned an Op-Ed for The New York Times suggesting that the country should adopt a Congressional open primary election system to reduce the polarization currently plaguing Congress.

On Twitter, Schwarzenegger appaluded Schumer’s stance:

I couldn’t agree more MT @SenSchumer: Our political primary system needs reform; top two would moderate our politics. http://t.co/KWulT4aiW4

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) July 22, 2014

 

Fantastic to see @SenSchumer supporting top-two primary. Let’s get it done & break up the status quo of gridlock. http://t.co/KWulT4aiW4

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) July 22, 2014

 

What exactly was it about Schumer’s piece that caught The Terminator’s attention?

The New York Democrat outlined what he believes to be the direct effects of the current primary election system and floated this recommendation:

“We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.”

Schwarzenegger’s home state of California has used the non-partisan, open primary system since 2010. Washington State uses an open primary election system too, along with Louisiana where the system is sometimes referred to as a “jungle primary.”

According to Schumer, California was virtually a magnetic field for political polarization until voters decided to adopt the open primary system in 2010. He wrote, “The move has had a moderating influence on both parties and a salutary effect on the political system and its ability to govern.”

And Schumer later tweeted back his appreciation for Schwarzenegger’s muscular endorsement:

Thanks Governor @Schwarzenegger

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 22, 2014

 

 

 

 

Joe Biden’s DJ Nephew Is Taking the Music Industry by Storm

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

The White House(NEW YORK) — An up-and-coming New York D.J. happens to be the nephew of the vice president.

Jamie Biden, 32, spins at Montauk hotspot the Surf Lodge, Hamptons parties hosted by club promoter Ronnie Flynn, and Saturday Night Live after-parties.

The New York Times reported that in addition to D.J. gigs on the New York circuit, he is working on an album.

The long-haired Biden, who was once described as “more White Stripes than White House,” is also the lead guitarist for rock band Bloody Social.

Vice President Joe Biden is the brother of his father, James Biden Sr.

The vice president’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Jamie Biden’s music career.

Biden, 32, said that although he attended his uncle’s inauguration, he has yet to play for him.

“He has more important things to do, at the moment, than coming to see me play, for now,” he told the Times.

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Joe Biden’s DJ Nephew Is Taking the Music Industry by Storm

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GY jamie biden jt 140722 16x9 608 Joe Bidens DJ Nephew Is Taking the Music Industry by Storm

There’s an up-and-coming D.J. on the New York scene. He spins at Montauk hotspot the Surf Lodge, Hamptons parties hosted by club promoter Ronnie Flynn, and “Saturday Night Live” after-parties.

Oh, and his uncle happens to be the vice president.

Jamie Biden, 32, is taking the music industry by storm. The New York Times reported that in addition to D.J. gigs on the New York circuit, he is working on an album.

The long-haired Biden, who was once described as “more White Stripes than White House,” is also the lead guitarist for rock band Bloody Social.

Vice President Joe Biden is the brother of his father, James Biden Sr.

The vice president’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Jamie Biden’s music career.

Biden, 32, said that although he attended his uncle’s inauguration, he has yet to play for him.

“He has more important things to do, at the moment, than coming to see me play, for now,” he told the Times.

Obama Meets with Apollo 11 Crew 45 Years After Lunar Landing

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

NASA/Bill Ingalls(WASHINGTON) — Legendary moonwalker Buzz Aldrin may have been “out of town” when the world celebrated Apollo 11′s lunar landing, but he marked the anniversary on Tuesday with a presidential handshake and a meeting in the Oval Office — the same spot from whence President Nixon made that famous interplanetary telephone call to the moon 45 years ago.

Nixon called July 20, 1969 — the day Aldrin and Neil Armstrong stepped off the Apollo 11 lunar module and onto the moon — the “proudest day of our lives.”

“For one priceless moment in the whole history of man all the people on this Earth are truly one — one in their pride in what you have done and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth,” Nixon said during his satellite conversation with Armstrong.

Four months later — following a 21-day quarantine procedure designed to shield Earth from possible lunar pathogens and a 24-country “good will tour” meant to demonstrate the United States’ willingness to share its lunar expertise — the Apollo 11 team visited the president at the White House.

Since then, the astronauts have met with Presidents Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush — and now Obama.

Aldrin and Michael Collins (who remained in the orbiter during the moon walk) — along with Neil Armstrong’s wife, Carol, and current NASA administrator Charles Bolden — returned to the White House on Tuesday to celebrate the 45th anniversary of their moon landing.

It’s not known what the group discussed.

Before his death, Armstrong lambasted Obama for cancelling NASA’s moon return project “Constellation,” calling the U.S. spaceflight program “lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable.”

“A lead, however earnestly and expensively won, once lost, is nearly impossible to regain,” the astronaut told Congress.

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