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Metal Spikes Installed on White House Fence

Pictured are the old (R) and new parts (L) of the White House fence. (ABC News)(WASHINGTON) -- Metal spikes were installed atop the White House fence Wednesday, the latest enhancement to fortify the security perimeter at the White House.Two metal spikes of different lengths were squeezed in between the existing spears lining the fence. U.S. Secret Service and the National Park Service mounted the “removable anti-climb feature” Wednesday afternoon, but the entire installation process will take six weeks.  Designed by Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, the metal spikes installed Wednesday are only temporary and will be replaced once a long-term solution is implemented.  The Commission of Fine Arts and National Capital Planning Commission will review and approve a final design in the fall and construction on a permanent security enhancement will begin in 2016. The renovation comes nearly 10 months after Omar Gonzalez scaled the White House fence, sprinted across the North Lawn and entered the White House. Some semblance of a fence has existed on the White House grounds dating back to Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. Around 1801, Jefferson built the first post and rail fence around the White House, according to the White House Historical Association.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Umbrella Closes On President Obama's Head

An umbrella closed on President Obama's head as he walked in rainy Tennessee, July 1, 2015. (ABC News)(MADISON, Tenn.) -- Everyone’s had an umbrella close on their head from time to time. But it’s not every day you see it happen to the president of the United States. As he stepped out of his limo into rainy Nashville weather Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama was handed an umbrella. But seconds later as the president was walking, the umbrella closed on his head. The mishap occurred when the president picked up Kelly Bryant, a breast cancer survivor who wrote to the president about her experience with the Affordable Care Act. Bryant accompanied the president to a speech in Madison, Tennessee where he is talking about the success of his signature healthcare plan. While the president didn’t discuss his umbrella snafu, he did note that Bryant had the “distinction of possibly being the first person ever to be picked up at her house by a presidential motorcade.” “It was so close to the school we said well we might as well swing by and get her,” he said.ABC US News | World NewsCopyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

White House Lifts Ban on Photos During Tours

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The first photos are beginning to trickle out on social media of people enjoying the first White House tours free of a photo ban.In what appears to be the first selfie shared on Twitter from a White House tour, a woman poses with a bust of George Washington and tweets “a quick selfie with George W before the Secret Service get me!”This is the first time in over 40 years that people have been allowed to take photos during White House tours and the White House is encouraging visitors to share their photos using the hashtag #whitehousetour. Under the new rules, visitors are allowed to snap photos on their phones and small cameras, though selfie sticks and video cameras continue to be on the "Prohibited Items" list.The first tour group Wednesday morning consisted of bloggers, individuals and organizations with large numbers of followers on social media, a White House official said, so as to make sure that the first photos reached a wide audience.Upon entering the White House, visitors were greeted by the first family's dogs, Bo and Sunny.Visitors were also shown a video that first lady Michelle Obama posted earlier Wednesday to Instagram announcing that the ban was lifted and a sign reminding visitors that “Photography is Encouraged. But please remember to turn off your flash and no video recording or streaming.”“If you’ve been on a White House tour, you may have seen this sign,” the first lady says in the video as she holds a sign that reads “NO PHOTOS OR SOCIAL MEDIA ALLOWED.” She then says, “Not anymore!” and rips through the sign.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton Raised More Than $45M in First Quarter, Campaign Says

Feng Li/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hillary Clinton’s campaign says it has raised more than $45 million in the first three months of her campaign alone -- with 91 percent of the donations falling at $100 or less. That total is nearly half of the campaign’s goal to raise $100 million by the end of 2015. It would also break the record for any candidate’s first quarter of running for president, surpassing President Obama’s $41.9 million in 2011, per Clinton’s campaign.Clinton beat her equivalent 2008 total by about $9 million. Between her Jan. 20, 2007 announcement and the end of March that year, she raised $26 million. (That time she had one fewer week to raise the money because of her announcement date.) The second fundraising quarter closed Tuesday with a June 30 deadline. We won’t see Federal Election Commission reports until July 15, but campaigns leak their totals before they have to officially report, so we expect to hear from other candidates in the coming days.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Marco Rubio Will Oppose Confirmation of a Cuba Ambassador

John Paul Filo/CBS(WASHINGTON) — For the first time in five decades, President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. will resume full diplomatic relations with Cuba, but Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, isn’t ready to embrace the news.A staunch opponent of the normalization of relations with Cuba, the republican senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio issued a statement issued Wednesday in response to the president’s announcement. “It remains unclear what, if anything, has been achieved since the President's December 17th announcement in terms of securing the return of U.S. fugitives being harbored in Cuba, settling outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for properties confiscated by the regime, and in obtaining the unequivocal right of our diplomats to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, and most importantly, securing greater political freedoms for the Cuban people,” he said.Rubio said he intends to oppose any confirmation of an Ambassador to Cuba until the issues he sees as unresolved are addressed.“It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end,” he said.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama: 'New Chapter' Begins as US, Cuba Will Open Embassies

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama hailed the start of a "new chapter" Wednesday as he announced the U.S. and Cuba are opening embassies in their respective capitals later this month and formally reestablished diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years."Today I can announce the United States has agreed to formally establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba" and open embassies in the two countries, the president said in the Rose Garden Wednesday.The Cuban government announced it would open its embassy in the U.S. on July 20. The U.S. is expected to launch its embassy in Havana later that week.Obama announced his intent to move forward with restoring ties between the two countries following the Dec. 17 prisoner exchange and humanitarian release of Alan Gross.In the following seven months, top American and Cuban diplomats have met in a series of meetings in both countries to discuss issues surrounding normalizing relations.Tuesday morning, the chief of the interest section, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, delivered a letter from Obama to Cuban President Raul Castro to officially re-establish diplomatic relations.In May, the U.S. removed Cuba from the list of countries supporting terrorism, where it was listed since 1982. In April, Obama and Castro sat down for a historic meeting in Panama, the first time the two leaders engaged in a substantive conversation in-person.The major sticking point as of the last round of talks, for Americans, has been the freedom for staff to move throughout the country; for the Cubans, it was courses provided to Cuban journalists by the U.S. government at the interests section in Havana, which they say fall outside normal diplomatic activities.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Your Member of Congress Could Be a Taylor Swift Fan

ABC/Richard Harbaugh(WASHINGTON) — Nothing brings Congress together like Taylor Swift.Members are holding at least 19 fundraisers around the pop star's two Washington, D.C. concerts in mid-July, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political fundraising.While tickets can be found on Swift’s website for about $180, members are asking supporters for as much as $5,000 in political contributions in exchange for concert seats at Nationals Park on July 13 and 14."With so much competition for time and money, politicians are always looking for new and creative ways to fund-raise," said Jenn Topper, a spokesperson for the Sunlight Foundation.Swift has been a major draw for politicians since 2010, Topper said, citing the nonprofit's data. But members traditionally take advantage of any well-known musician in town — from Bruce Springsteen, to the Jonas Brothers.While both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have plans for Swift's shows, the 25-year-old singer has kept her own political affiliation ambiguous.Swift voted for the first time in 2008, and told People Magazine she said she "went with her gut instinct" in the voting booth.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hillary Clinton Emails: Nearly 2,000 Messages Released by State Department

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department has released nearly 2,000 emails sent and received by Hillary Clinton in her first year as Secretary of State, according to officials and the agency's website.The release Tuesday evening is the first in a federal court-ordered rollout that will make 55,000 pages of Clinton’s emails available on the department’s website by Jan. 29, 2016.Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. said in May the State Department should “aspire” to release 7 percent of the documents by the end of June, with an increasing percentage of documents released every 30 days.It was not clear how many pages were included in the 1,925 emails. Click here to read the emails.In May, the department released 296 emails from Clinton’s private email account related to the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Those emails previously had been released to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which has been investigating the attack for more than a year.Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has previously said on the campaign trail that she wants the State Department to make all her emails public.State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday the correspondence covers from March to December of 2009. The 9 p.m. release time, Kirby said, was not a news dump.“This is really a function of physics for us,” Kirby told reporters. “There is a lot of e-mails to get through, we have a deadline we have to meet, and we are doing everything we can to reach that 7 percent goal for release as ordered by the courts.”Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Michelle Obama Welcomes Girl Scouts for White House Campout

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Michelle Obama welcomed a group of fifty Girl Scouts to the White House on Tuesday night for a campout on the Pennsylvania Avenue lawn."This is the first time we've ever done a campout on the South Lawn on the White House," Obama said Tuesday night, telling the girls that they were "making history."The event is part of the first lady's Let's Move Outside intiiative that aims to get children active.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jeb Bush Releases 33 Years of Tax Returns

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Jeb Bush released 33 years worth of tax returns on his campaign website on Tuesday, making public information including his worth and effective tax rate.Bush's 33 years of returns are, according to his campaign, the most ever released by a presidential candidate. Bob Dole released 30 years of returns during his campaign.His campaign says that Bush is worth between $20 and 22 million, and has made $28.5 million in the seven years since he left office in early 2007.In 2013, Bush paid an effective tax rate of 40.3 percent. On average, he paid 36 percent in taxes -- a higher rate than the Clintons or President Obama paid in 2014.The documents also note that Bush has averaged an income of $1.1 million per year in speaking fees since leaving office.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump Files $500 Million Lawsuit Against Univision

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump filed a $500 million lawsuit against Spanish-language network Univision after the company decided to terminate its contract with Trump's Miss Universe Organization and not broadcast the upcoming Miss USA pageant.Univision decided that it would not air the pageant after comments Trump made when he announced his campaign for the presidency. Trump said that immigrants coming from Mexico to the U.S. were bringing "crime" and "drugs," were "rapists" and not Mexico's best. He stood by those comments on Monday, when he called NBC -- who said it would not air the Miss USA pageant -- "weak.""Nothing I stated was different from what I have been saying for many years," Trump said in a statement Tuesday. "I want strong borders, and I do not support or condone illegal immigration."Trump's statement also explains the lawsuit. "As a consequence of their inappropriate actions," Trump says, "Univision and NBC have abandoned fifty one wonderful young women who have come from all over the United States to pursue their dream of being crowned Miss USA."Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

CIA Study Finds Low Minority Representation in Agency's Senior Ranks

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new internal CIA report has concluded that the agency has not done a good job of promoting minorities to its senior leadership ranks. Concerned by the report’s findings CIA Director John Brennan vowed to implement the report’s recommendations noting that a lack of diversity at the agency’s highest levels has not allowed it to optimize its capabilities at a crucial time in its history.“Without diversity we’re not going to be able to do our job,” said Brennan.“The record clearly suggests that the senior leadership of the agency is not committed to diversity,” said the yearlong study led by Vernon Jordan, a prominent African-American attorney. Commissioned by Brennan in January 2014, the Diversity in Leadership Study team also included former senior CIA officials and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The study included data from 28 focus groups, 200 interviews with senior leaders and a survey where 41.5 % of the CIA workforce responded to questions about overcoming barriers to advancement.“The fact is there has been little progress over the past several decades in diversifying the leadership cadre and pipeline and in sustaining the hiring of diverse officers,” said the study.The report found that minorities make up 23.9% of the agency’s entire workforce, but those percentages decreased in management positions with minorities making up only 10.8% of the agency’s Senior Intelligence Service (SIS) – the CIA’s highest ranking officials.Speaking to reporters at the CIA’s headquarters Brennan said he was “frustrated” by the low percentage of minorities within the SIS. He supported the study’s recommendation that the number of minorities in senior leadership positions be increased to at least 30 percent.The study also found what Brennan labeled a "surprising" and “significant” decline in minority recruitment numbers since 2008. He speculated that an improving economy and strong competition from the private sector might be playing a role in the decreasing recruitment of minorities into the CIA’s ranks.“I’m determined to see those numbers improve,” said Brennan.In strong language the report said “the agency does not recognize the value of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, nor consistently promote an inclusive, 'speak-up' culture where all opinions are heard, valued, and taken into account.”Brennan stressed that diversity is important to avoid “group think” among the CIA’s analysts and operators and that a lack of diversity in the top ranks “has not allowed us to optimize the capabilities we have.”The study was critical of the agency’s current leaders, managers, and supervisors that it said “do not prioritize diversity in leadership.” It said that was exemplified by the CIA’s most senior positions which “with few notable exceptions – are consistently occupied by white male career officers.”“This is not just another study,” said Brennan, who promised action to remove the impediments the report said prevented minority officers from rising through the ranks. “We need to fix that.”That includes the establishment of a newly established “Training Center for Excellence” which he said would work to improve recruitment numbers and help promote officials to higher ranks.Brennan said another impetus for change is the recent integration of the CIA’s operations and analysis divisions into mission centers. He said the sweeping reorganization he announced earlier this year would help eliminate the stove-piping that may prevented minority advancement in the past. He said the changes have already led to the creation of new management positions, some of which have been filled by minority candidates.The CIA director said meeting the report's recommendations would not be like tuning on "a light switch." Instead, he described a multi-year effort working towards short-term and long-term goals that “shows we’re not kidding, this is real this time.”Despite the presence of few role models in senior agency leadership positions, the survey found that minority officers are more likely to aspire to senior leadership positions than non-minority CIA employees.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama Calls Last Week 'Gratifying'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama secured some major victories last week on trade, healthcare and same-sex marriage, and delivered one of the most impassioned speeches of his presidency -- causing many to dub the seven-day span his “best week” ever.But the president himself stopped short of assigning that description to the week, calling it “gratifying” and instead saying the “best” weeks occurred in his personal life.“In terms of my best week, now my best week, I will tell you, was marrying Michelle. That was a really good week. Malia and Sasha being born, excellent weeks,” Obama said in a press conference Tuesday. “There was a game where I scored 27 points.”“I've had some good weeks in my life, I will tell you. And I'm blessed to have had those. I think last week was gratifying,” he said as he ticked off his victories on trade and healthcare.The president described his speech in Charleston, South Carolina as “heartfelt” and “a reflection on the consistent challenge of race in this country and how we can find a path towards a better way.”Obama later said he was happy to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage -- but noted there was one downside: Not being able to walk out on Pennsylvania Avenue to see it himself.“That made it a really good week,” he said. “To see people gathered in an evening outside on a beautiful summer night and to feel whole and to feel accepted and to feel that they had a right to love, that was pretty cool. That was a good thing.”Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama on Iran Talks: Still 'Hard Negotiations' to Be Done

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said the U.S. and the P5+1 partners must still engage in "some hard negotiations" with Iran before finalizing a deal on Iran's nuclear program.“There’s still some hard negotiations to take place but ultimately it’s going to be up to the Iranians to determine whether or not they meet the requirements the international community has set forth,” he said Tuesday during a joint press conference with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.Obama's comments came shortly after a State Department official announced the deadline to secure a deal with Iran would extend beyond Tuesday until July 7.Obama emphasized again that he will not hesitate to walk away from the negotiations if Iran does not agree to the terms reached in a tentative agreement negotiated in Lausanne, Switzerland earlier this year and that the U.S. is demanding more than just a declaration from Iran and a "few inspectors wandering around" every once and a while.“The framework agreement that was established at Lausanne is one that if implemented effectively and codified properly would in fact achieve my goal which is Iran not obtaining a nuclear weapon” the president said, adding that there has been talk from Iranian negotiators that they are walking back parts of the commitments reached as part of that tentative agreement.“I will walk away from the negotiations if in fact it’s a bad deal," Obama added. "If we can’t provide assurances that the pathways for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon are closed and if we can’t verify that, if the inspections regime, the verification regime is inadequate then we’re not going to get a deal and we’ve been very clear to the Iranian government about that."Asked about Americans being held in Iran, the president said the United States continues to push with urgency to secure their release.“This is something that we continue to push hard on irrespective of the nuclear deal,” Obama said. “It’s a top priority for us to make sure that our people are treated fairly and on the face of it in the case of these individuals who’ve been held, they have not been and they are not being afforded the basic due process and legal rights that we afford visitors to our country so we're deeply concerned about it, we spend a lot of time pushing on it, and we will continue to do so.”It’s a message that Obama said he has communicated directly to the family members of those Americans.“When I talk to the families, we remind them that that is a mission that will continue and has been worked on consistently throughout their captivity,” he said.The news conference came as Rousseff wraps up her visit with Obama during a two-day visit to Washington, D.C. The two leaders met in the Oval Office Tuesday morning and for a private working dinner at the White House on Monday night.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Chris Christie Announces 2016 Presidential Campaign

ABC/Randy Sager(NEW YORK) -- Chris Christie is running for president, his campaign announced in an e-mail to supporters Tuesday.The New Jersey governor is expected to formally declare a candidacy for the White House at his alma mater, Livingston High School in New Jersey, later Tuesday, becoming the 14th Republican candidate to enter the 2016 presidential race. The tough-talking moderate Republican’s campaign slogan is: “Tell It Like It Is.”On Saturday, Christie unveiled his presidential campaign site. A day later, a short video was posted showing a more personal side of the governor in a town-hall style setting.“I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt and too direct and saying what’s on my mind just a little bit too loudly,” Christie says in the video. “I know if my mom were still alive, she would say to me, ‘I taught you that in a trusting relationship, you don’t hold anything back’.”Christie’s decision to run for the presidency comes after months of speculation as to whether the governor would throw his hat into an already crowded field of GOP candidates.In the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll last month, 22 percent of Americans see Christie favorably, while 48 percent see him unfavorably.After Tuesday’s announcement Christie will go on to campaign in New Hampshire for the rest of the week, making stops at a series of town hall meetings and diners, as well as an appearance at the Wolfeboro 4th of July Parade on Saturday.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Marco Rubio to Give First Domestic Policy Speech as Candidate for President

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) — Marco Rubio is ready to take his ideas on domestic policy public.The Republican senator from Florida will deliver his first policy speech as a presidential candidate on Tuesday, July 7 at 1871 in Chicago.  The speech will cover “technology and the 21st century job market,” according to a Rubio aide.“Marco will discuss the need to overcome our economic challenges by fostering the American innovation that will create high-paying modern jobs and by equipping all Americans with the skills needed to fill them,” the aide said. Rubio will participate in a moderated discussion following his speech.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Was Like in High School

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images(LIVINGSTON, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reminisced on his “glory days” of high school from his alma mater Tuesday as he made his presidential announcement."This is where we grew up, these are the fields where we played on, these are the playgrounds we played on, this is the school we built our friends with and came and learned with," Christie said of his hometown to a crowd of supporters crammed into the Livingston High School gymnasium.But what was the 52-year-old, ambitious, and big-personality governor like in his high school heydays?According to a few of his former classmates and teachers, Christie was hardly the aggressively outspoken politician you see today.His ambitions for the White House are hinted at in his yearbook quote, “Great Hopes make Great Men” along with the fact that he was elected class president for three years.Christie was also an athlete, playing catcher on his high school’s varsity baseball team. When Christie had to be benched during games his senior year, he handled it with class, according to the Washington Post.Before he met his wife, Mary Pat, in college, Christie was dating a girl named Melina, taking her to the junior prom.“To Melina. you’re [sic] taken my life into your heart. Our special love will live in my heart forever,” Christie writes, ending his yearbook quote with romance.Christie even had his bout of mischief, breaking the rules to paint his graduation year on the high school. “Painting the roof, twice,” Christie writes in his yearbook.In a message to his graduating class of 1980, Christie wrote: "As a group of nearly 600, we will never be all together in the same room again; but as long as this spirit lives within us, we shall never really part.""You cannot divide me and this town in terms of who I am and what I've become. There is no chance if I hadn't grown up in this town and went to this high school that I'd be standing up here as governor,” he said at his induction into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2013.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Chris Christie Set to Formally Declare Presidential Candidacy

ABC/Randy Sager(NEW YORK) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will formally declare his candidacy for president of the United States Tuesday at his alma mater, Livingston High School in New Jersey, becoming the 14th Republican candidate to enter the 2016 presidential race. Over the weekend, Christie unveiled a short video previewing his message.“I get accused a lot of times of being too blunt and too direct and saying what’s on my mind just a little bit too loudly,” Christie says in the video. “I know if my mom were still alive, she would say to me, ‘I taught you that in a trusting relationship, you don’t hold anything back.’” In an ABC News/Washington Post poll last month, 22 percent of Americans said they see Christie favorably, while 48 percent see him unfavorably.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Iran Hostage Wants President Obama to Demand Apology for Americans Held i

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — As the White House seeks a historic détente and nuclear deal with Iran, the 52 Americans held hostage by the Islamic regime back in 1979 are redoubling demands for a formal apology and compensation for their nightmarish ordeal.“Not only have they not apologized. The taking of that [U.S.] embassy is still celebrated in Iran,” former hostage Rodney Sickmann, who spent 444 days in captivity, told ABC News. “We need to make sure that we show the rest of the world that if you do this to an American embassy, you will be held accountable.”Sickmann and other survivors are imploring the Obama administration to insist upon a formal apology and compensation for their treatment as part of any agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. However, the White House has repeatedly said restitution for the hostages is not on the table in the discussions set to conclude in a few days.“There are a whole host of issues on the side that are also priorities but that are separate from our ongoing efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC News in April."Ultimately, the U.S. should insist on an apology,” Sickmann said in the interview. “For 444 days I had to live as a hostage, tied to a chair first 30 days, then locked in a room for the next 400. My freedom was gone. It was torture.”On Nov. 4th, 1979, the United States embassy in Teheran was overrun by Iranians who Sickmann calls “terrorists,” describing abusive, humiliating and torturous circumstances for over a year. He and the other American captives were released Jan. 20, 1981, just minutes after Ronald Reagan took the oath of office.“You regret not ever pulling that trigger when all this is happening to you, you think back to the morning I had a chance. I couldn’t have killed everybody but at least I would have given some satisfaction,” Sickmann told ABC. “But I did my job, I did what I was told to do which was to stand down. So stand down I did and now it is time for the US government to stand up and make sure that Iran is held accountable for what they did.”The former hostages have found some allies on Capitol Hill, working on legislation in consultation with the State Department, that could potentially provide compensation from frozen or seized Iranian assets under U.S. sanctions. Congress has not yet approved any such proposal.For more on Sickmann’s story and the harrowing tale of his detention in this ABC News Original Video.ABC US News | World NewsCopyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Obama to Overhaul Overtime Rule, Boosting Pay for 5 Million Workers

The White House(WASHINGTON) — Millions of more Americans may soon see a boost in their wages as President Obama prepares to announce a new regulation for overtime pay.Later this week, President Obama will unveil a plan to increase the threshold for which employers are required to pay employees, a senior administration official says. Under the new rule, employees earning under $50,440 will be able to earn time-and-a-half when their work week exceeds 40 hours, up from the current threshold of $23,660.  The proposal would affect 5 million American workers. "That's good for workers who want fair pay, and it's good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren't,” the president wrote in a Huffington Post op-Ed touting the new plan. “That's how America should do business. In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay. That's at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.” Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics to Remain Open

zimmytws/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday voted to grant an appeal from Texas abortion clinics that would have been shut down by restrictive state laws, allowing them to remain open until an appeal is completed.The court order will remain in effect at least until it decides whether or not to hear a full appeal of a lower court ruling that approved the restrictive law. Had the justices voted in favor of the state, 10 of the 19 abortion clinics remaining in Texas would have been shuttered.Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that the state legislation was properly upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. "Texas will continue to fight for higher-quality healthcare standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable -- the unborn," he said. "I'm confident the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold this law."Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Michelle Obama Hints at Post-White House Work While Promoting Education Initiati

Photo by Kris Connor/ FilmMagic(WASHINGTON) -- First Lady Michelle Obama said on Monday that she hopes to continue her work on the Let Girls Learn initiative, which promotes education for young women in third world nations, after she leaves the White House.Obama, along with the Peace Corps, have secured funding from numerous international powers for projects that provide young women around the world with educational opportunities. The funding also helps to keep those girls in school despite "cultural barriers.""This is exactly the kind of work that I plan to do for my remaining time as first lady, and beyond," Obama said at More Magazine's Impact Awards luncheon at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum Monday. Obama said that the initiative "can't just be the work of government."In fact, the first lady says she sees herself in the women her initiative has helped, saying that she "wasn't any smarter or more talented than they are.""Instead of having to work or support family, I got to go to school," Obama said.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NBC Ends Relationship with Donald Trump

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- NBC on Monday ended its business relationship with business mogul and presidential candidate Donald Trump.In a press release, NBC cites Trumps "derogatory statements...regarding immigrants." Trump said Mexican immigrants to the U.S. brought "drugs" and "crime" and included "rapists" when he announced his candidacy earlier this month. He also said that Mexico wasn't sending its "best" people to the U.S.In the wake of those comments, Spanish language channel Univision said it would not carry the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, ventures partially run by Trump. NBC made similar comments on Monday.The NBC press release further says that Trump will not participate in "The Apprentice," but that "Celebrity Apprentice" is licensed by United Artists Media Group, allowing that show's relationship with NBC to continue. Trump told reporters on Monday, following a speech in Chicago, that the relationship with NBA had to end "because my view on immigration is much different than NBC." An official statement from Trump's campaign called NBC "weak" and said that "like everybody else is trying to be politically correct -- that is why our country is in serious trouble.""If NBC is so weak and so foolish to not understand the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States, coupled with the horrendous and unfair trade deals we are making with Mexico, then their contract violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court," Trump's statement read.Trump concluded by ripping NBC for their willingness to "stand behind lying Brian Williams, but won't stand behind people that tell it like it is, as unpleasant as that may be."Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How Obama Will Welcome a President He Spied On

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff learned in 2013 that the National Security Agency was listening in on her phone calls and reading her emails, she was none too pleased.She canceled a long-planned state visit to the United States and used an address at the United Nations General Assembly to blast the United States for what she called a “totally unacceptable” violation of her country’s sovereignty and accused the United States of breaking international law.But Monday night, over two years later, Rousseff will be wined and dined by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during a private “working dinner” at the White House. It’s part of a two-day fence-mending trip and an opportunity for the two presidents to move beyond what the White House acknowledges as a “turbulent patch” between the Western hemisphere’s two largest economies.The two leaders will participate Tuesday in a series of formal meetings and also hold a joint news conference.Obama has found himself in this predicament often in the past two years as he has tried to restore relationships with key allies angry over the NSA surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013. The president has repaired his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel with meetings, phone calls and even a beer after she expressed outrage about the NSA spying on her cellphone conversations.Just last week, Obama called French President Francois Hollande to patch their relationship following reports the United States spied on him and his two predecessors. In the phone call, the president reiterated a commitment that the United States is “not targeting and will not target the communications of the French president.”This will be the second meeting for Obama and Rousseff since the NSA spying revelations in 2013. They previously met on the sidelines of the Summit of Americas in Panama in April.But even as the two leaders attempt to move beyond the spying that damaged their relationship, the White House won’t say whether Obama will formally apologize to Rousseff.“We have not made it a practice to issue apologies related to our surveillance activities,” White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said during a conference call with reporters to preview Rousseff’s visit last week. “What the president has done is make changes based on our very thorough review of programs.”Rousseff’s visit to the White House “signals the fact that we are moving forward in terms of our positive relationship” and will allow the two leaders to move forward on a number of “stalled” areas, Rhodes said.The White House said the two leaders will discuss a wide range of topics, from climate change to trade, as well as defense and international cooperation. The two leaders will also discuss Cuba and Venezuela.Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Supreme Court Upholds Oklahoma's Alternate Lethal Injection Drug

bbourdages/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the use of midazolam in lethal injections was not in violation of the Eighth Amendment, allowing capital punishment in Oklahoma to continue.The state had turned to midazolam after it was unable to obtain other drugs that it had long used in its lethal injections. Death row inmates filed a suit that was heard by the highest court in the nation claiming that the use of this alternate drug was a violation of their right against cruel and unusual punishment.Inmates argued that the midazolam, meant to induce unconsciousness prior to the second and third drugs which inhibit movement and induce cardiac arrest, would not render them unable to feel pain.The court decided, by a 5-4 vote, that the inmates "failed to identify a known and available alternative method of execution that presented a substantially less severe risk of pain" or that using midazolam "created a demonstrated risk of severe pain."Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.