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


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.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Meets with Apollo 11 Crew 45 Years After Lunar Landing


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.Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Labor Officials Promise to Fix Program for Coal Miners with Black Lung


Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins examines lung X-rays. (ABC News)(WASHINGTON) -- Federal labor officials told lawmakers Tuesday that they have notified dozens of coal workers they should re-apply for black lung benefits because their claims were denied in part based on medical reviews by a controversial Johns Hopkins physician.Letters and calls to 83 miners in recent weeks were part of a raft of remedies lawmakers said would help “level the playing field” for miners suffering from black lung disease.“Let me reassure you, the Department of Labor is committed to improving the effectiveness of these programs,” said Chris Lu, Deputy Secretary of Labor, at a Senate hearing convened to look at reforms to the government’s black lung benefit program.The hearings and the Labor Department action came after troubling questions about the federal black lung program were raised in a year-long ABC News investigation with the Center for Public Integrity. The reports focused on the difficulties coal miners faced collecting benefits from coal companies that were intended to help miners and their families if they contracted the deadly and debilitating lung disease.Sen. Robert Casey said at the hearing that he was appalled to learn that sick miners were being turned down for those benefits based in part on the medical opinions of a leading Johns Hopkins doctor. He noted that the news reports demonstrated examples of miners who were denied benefits based on doctors’ conclusions that they did not have severe black lung, only to have autopsies prove -- after their deaths -- that they had the disease.“I am pleased with the Department of Labor’s efforts to begin leveling the playing field for black lung claimants, but there is still more that needs to be done,” Casey said.Labor officials said they would begin to address an enormous backlog of unresolved black lung cases -- believed to be more than 14,000 of them -- by adding more than $2.7 million to the program’s budget. Casey urged them to seek a $10 million increase in the next federal budget “to not only stop the backlog from growing, but to actually begin reducing the number of backlogged cases.”Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) also attended the hearing, and described the pain he experienced watching coal miners, including his father, suffering from what then was only known as the “miners’ cough.”“After years of hard, dirty work powering our country, the least we can do in return is make sure that we give the miners a fair shot at accessing earned benefits,” Harkin said in a prepared statement. “But that fair shot has been out of reach for many of those miners.”The most significant moves described by Labor Department officials Tuesday involved actions they had taken to address the possibility that X-ray readings by Dr. Paul S. Wheeler of Johns Hopkins -- who was hired by coal companies to read films in black lung cases -- had skewed hundreds of cases against the miners.The ABC News/CPI report found that Wheeler had not reported a single instance of severe black lung in the more than 1,500 claims that the news outlets reviewed going back to the year 2000. Labor department officials said they were unaware of Wheeler's record until the ABC News report was broadcast.In court testimony in 2009, Wheeler said the last time he recalled finding a case of severe black lung, a finding that would automatically qualify a miner for benefits under a special federal program, was in "the 1970's or the early 80's."Labor Department Solicitor Patricia Smith called those findings "shocking."At the hearing, Lu told the lawmakers that his department had identified 83 claims that had been denied within the past year and sent a letter to those claimants alerting them to the “new guidance on Dr. Wheeler’s X-ray readings.”“The letter informed the claimants that they could request reopening of their claims, included the date by which they had to make the request, and told them that the request could be made either by telephoning or writing,” Lu said in testimony he submitted to the senate committee. “In four instances, the one-year modification deadline was quickly approaching, so [the department] telephoned the claimants in addition to sending the letter. To date, 13 claimants have sought modification in response to OWCP’s letter.”Lu added that the department had identified approximately 1,000 claims filed by miners between 2001 and 2013 that contained Wheeler X-ray interpretations. In those cases, miners were encouraged to file a new claim.Hopkins suspended Wheeler's black lung unit a few days after the ABC News/CPI report was broadcast and posted online. Hopkins said it would conduct its own internal investigation, which a spokesperson said remains ongoing."We take these allegations very seriously and are still conducting the investigation into the [black lung] program," Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said in a June email. "While our investigation is ongoing, nobody at Hopkins -- including Dr. Wheeler -- is performing" black lung X-ray readings.Reached by phone in June, Wheeler said he hopes to be cleared by the internal Hopkins investigation -- which he said is being conducted by the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs."The hospital still believes in my approach," he said.Wheeler told ABC News then he was unmoved by the Labor Department bulletin."They're not doctors," he said. "If they were from qualified medical institutions, I would be very unhappy."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Six Top Democrats Who Aren't So Ready for Hillary


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- 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, however, have spoken out against endorsing Clinton too early, including some who have indicated they may challenge her for the nomination.Here are six prominent Dems who aren’t ready for Hillary:1. Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickHe may share a hometown with Clinton (Chicago), but any Windy City solidarity hasn’t yet been extended to the realm of presidential politics. When asked in May on CNN’s State of the Union if Clinton’s potential candidacy would lead to an inevitable victory, he said, “I guess I worry a little bit. She’s an enormously capable candidate and leader. But I do worry about the inevitability thing, because I think it’s off-putting to the average…voter.”2. Ohio Sen. Sherrod BrownThe senior senator from one of the most important election states is already tired of all the 2016 press. When asked by U.S. News last month about endorsing Clinton, he said, “I’m not on board with anybody…It just doesn’t matter to me at this point. I’m not trying to be arrogant about it, I’ve just got more important things to do. It’ll matter to me sometime next year at some point, I guess.” He also chose to stay out of the 2008 Democratic primary, only endorsing then-Sen. Barack Obama after he had secured the party’s nomination.3. Iowa Sen. Tom HarkinA common criticism from Republicans about Clinton centers on the ambiguity of her core principles. But some on the left feel the same way, including Harkin. In June, Harkin told the Des Moines Register: “I think Hillary would be the first to say, no one ever has something all locked up. This is not a coronation or anything like that.” He added, “Democrats would rightfully say anywhere, ‘Wait a minute. No matter who is running, we want to know who, why, what do you stand for? What would your policies be as president?’ That is especially true in Iowa.”4. Maryland Gov. Martin O’MalleyO’Malley has positioned himself as one of Clinton’s first prospective opponents, which explains why he would not be eager to endorse her this early. Regarding the recent controversy over immigration, he split with Clinton when speaking at a National Governors Association meeting earlier this month, saying, “We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death.” O’Malley has also been at odds with the Obama administration over their handling of the immigration crisis, leading to a public spat between him and the White House.5. Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico and cabinet memberRichardson has been a vocal critic of Clinton in the past, and he doesn’t seem ready to change his thinking two presidential election cycles later. When asked by Larry King last week on King’s show Politicking if he thinks Clinton has the nomination in hand, Richardson stayed distant: “I want to see who the candidates are. I think there should be open competition. It’s not that I won’t ever be there, but right now I’m not one of those hundreds of Democrats flocking and saying the race is over.”6. Brian Schweitzer, former Montana governorSchweitzer didn’t mince words when asked about Clinton’s presidential aspirations, positioning himself as one of Clinton’s loudest critics on the left. In June he told Time, “You can’t be the candidate that shakes down more money on Wall Street than anybody since, I don’t know, Woodrow Wilson, and be the populist. You can’t be the one to say we’re going to focus on rebuilding America if you voted to go to the Iraq War.” When asked if he thinks he would be a better fit in the Oval Office, Schweitzer was adamant: “Well, I think so, of course.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Todd Akin Clarifies 'Legitimate Rape' Comment in New Book


US House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- Todd Akin may regret how he said it, but he doesn’t regret what he meant.The former Missouri Republican’s Senate campaign crumbled in 2012 after he said that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” and prevent an unwanted pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”Now, just months before the 2014 mid-term election, Akin has returned with Firing Back -- a book about his life, his politics and, yes, an attempt to clarify what may have been the most notorious comment of the previous cycle.“Obviously no rape is legitimate,” Akin told ABC News in an interview. “It's a serious, serious crime. But legitimate rape is a law enforcement term for legitimate case of rape. Rape is not legitimate, it’s the particular circumstances.”Akin went on to say that his remark related to the female body’s ability to shut down reproductive abilities if raped was “not very well stated.”“What I was simply saying is: stress plays a role in whether somebody's eggs fertilize or somebody gets pregnant,” Akin said. “The probability of pregnancy as a result of rape is less than it might be otherwise.”Akin said he knows it is possible for women to get pregnant through rape, noting that he had volunteers working on his campaign who were conceived through rape.The heart of the debate, from Akin’s perspective, is over whether children conceived through rape have the same right to life as children conceived through consensual sex. As a strict adherent to pro-life principles, Akin opposes abortion except in cases when it is necessary to save the life of the mother.“The first question is, ‘Is it ever right to intentionally take the life of an innocent person?’” Akin said. “The second question is, ‘What is it that is inside a woman when she's pregnant?’ …They still have a right to life in my opinion; now, whether the rapist has a right to life, that's a different discussion.”Akin said there’s an ironic contrast between his status as a Republican outcast and former President Bill Clinton’s revered status within the Democratic Party. About two weeks after Akin’s infamous remarks, Clinton was a speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.“Clinton still has a long history of…sexual inappropriate behavior, and he gets a standing ovation or whatever it is, they're clapping, cheering because he's their keynote speaker,” Akin said. “Now, there's a difference between an action and a word.”The timing of Akin’s book release during an election year begs the question of whether the disgraced politician is trying to make a political comeback. And while he said he doesn’t currently have any plans to run for office, he isn’t ruling it out.He also had some choice words for Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads Super PAC has been a major force in supporting moderate Republican candidates in primaries across the country. He was also one of the earliest Republican operatives to denounce Akin following his “legitimate rape” remarks.“[Rove says] we're going to give up on primary elections in various states, and we're going to select the guy we know that's the best, he says ‘the most conservative guy we can get elected,’” Akin said. “What they're saying is they believe in selection over elections. So, it's just a really dumb thing to do. And because I'm not running for office, I don't mind calling dumb dumb.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

New Alison Lundergan Grimes Ad Hits Mitch McConnell on 'Not My Job' Comment


State of Kentucky(NEW YORK) -- Alison Lundergan Grimes’ is out with a new television ad hitting her opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on comments he made about his role in job creation in April.ABC News got a sneak peak of Grimes’ second television ad, featuring Kentuckians asking questions to McConnell. The ad -- titled “Question from David” -- begins with Grimes sitting next to David Stanley from Putney, Kentucky outside of a gas station.“I’m Alison Lundergan Grimes and David Stanley lost his coal mining job in Letcher County, and he has this question for Senator McConnell,” Grimes says.“Mr. McConnell, in the last two years, we’ve lost almost half of our coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky. Why’d you say it’s not your job to bring jobs to Kentucky?” Stanley said, before taking a long pause.There is no answer, but Grimes then says, “I couldn’t believe he said that either.”“I approved this message because, Senator, that’ll be my number one job,” she says, while looking directly into the camera.The ad refers to McConnell being asked by the Beattyville Enterprise in April what he would do to bring jobs to the county.“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” McConnell said then, according to the paper. “That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet.”Grimes has been consistently hitting McConnell over the comments, but his campaign says he was taken out of context.The Grimes’ campaign did not say how much money is behind the ad, but describe it as a significant, six-figure, statewide buy that begins airing Tuesday.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Primary Season Continues: Georgia Votes in Run-Off


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- WHO’S ON THE BALLOT?Voters in Georgia will cast ballots in primary run-offs Tuesday. One race, the GOP run-off for the open Georgia Senate seat, will set up a  2014 fight between Tuesday night’s victor and a Democrat with a familiar name in the Peach State. No incumbents face the chopping block Tuesday night and while the Senate face off is the marquee race, it’s not the only one to watch. ABC News' friends at FiveThirtyEight.com have joined us again to explain the importance of Tuesday’s big race. Look for FiveThirtyEight.com senior political writer Harry Enten’s take below.Here are three races to watch Tuesday: GEORGIA’S GOP FEUD: Two months of nonstop Republican-on-Republican badmouthing will finally end in Georgia on Tuesday. With a merciful runoff vote, Georgia Republicans will choose either former Dollar General CEO David Perdue or Rep. Jack Kingston as their candidate for the state’s open Senate seat to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. WHY IT MATTERS: The top two finishers in a seven-way May 20 primary were Perdue, who received 30.6 percent of the vote, and Kingston, who came in second with 25.8 percent. Perdue has assailed Kingston’s 21-year record of earmarks, while Kingston has pointed to layoffs, offshoring, and a government bailout among companies with which Perdue was involved, with fact checkers tweaking parts of his claims. Both candidates are vying, as one would expect, for the mantle of “true conservative.”  This isn’t a traditional Tea Party vs. establishment GOP fight as we’ve seen in primaries all over the country, most notably the Mississippi Senate primary. Rep. Jack Kingston has collected a wide array of endorsements, from former primary foe Karen Handel -- the Sarah Palin-endorsed tea partier in the multi-way first-round primary -- to conservative blogger Erick Erickson, the NRA and even the Chamber of Commerce. Perdue is backed by former presidential candidate Herman Cain, who called him his “brother from another mother,” because they’re so similar politically. No Democrat has won a Georgia Senate seat since 2000, but the GOP infighting has left some breathing room for Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, as Democrats have made good on their intentions to make the 2014 race competitive. After Republicans choose between two seemingly strong candidates, look for the attacks on Nunn to intensify and for a tough general election to get underway.538′s Take: Key CountiesPerdue will likely need to over-perform in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Perdue led Kingston by 17 to 18 points in Cobb (a traditional swing county in Republican primaries), Gwinnett, and Fulton counties in the first round. Handel came in first or second in all of these counties. If Perdue is to win the runoff, he’ll need to fight off Handel’s influence and win these counties by potentially upwards of 10 percentage points. He’ll be building on his base anchored by Bibb and Houston counties around Macon in the middle of the state. Kingston, meanwhile, needs another strong performance around his Savannah (Chatham County) centered congressional district in the southeast. Kingston regularly won 75 percent or more of the vote and no less than 64 percent of the vote in 30 southeastern counties. More than that, turnout was up in these southeast counties, while it was down in most of the state. In Chatham, for example, turnout was up 7 percent from the competitive gubernatorial primary four years ago. It was down 11 percent statewide. Swing County: Augusta (Richmond County) in the center-eastern part of the state could be telling. It’s just outside Kingston’s sphere of influence in the southeast and Perdue’s core support in the center of the state. Both candidates finished within a point of their statewide performance in Richmond in the first round.THE OTHERS:GEORGIA’S GOP RUN-OFF FOR THE 10TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Trucking company executive Mike Collins and pastor and conservative radio talk show host Jody Hice are facing off again Tuesday after the initial primary separated the two by less than one percent of the vote, with Hice leading by just a few hundred votes. Hice received 33.50 percent to Collins’ 32.99 percent.  WHY IT MATTERS: This seat is to replace the retiring Rep. Paul Broun, who ran unsuccessfully in the May primary for the U.S. Senate seat. Broun made a late endorsement of Hice, backing him just later this month. Collins is the son of former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins who represented Georgia in the House from 1993 to 2005.  Mike Collins’ father actually defeated Broun in the 1992 Republican primary congressional election, making it no surprise Broun backed Hice, although he said he waited because he did not want to anoint his successor. Collins has received the backing of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and unsuccessful Georgia Senate candidate Karen Handel. The race hasn’t been without its odd moment. A Vanilla Ice parody even popped up titled “Hice Hice Crazy,” teasing Hice for some controversial comments he has made about women and gays. Collins has described himself as a successful businessman pushing that he can create jobs in the district, while Hice has been working the tea party vote, and cast himself as more of a cultural warrior. Eyebrow-raising comments Hice has made not only about women and gays, but also Muslims have been raised on the campaign trail. The winner will face Democrat Ken Dious, an attorney, but it’s likely Tuesday’s winner will also be the November victory in this bright red district.GEORGIA’S GOP RUN-OFF FOR THE 11TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Former Congressman Bob Barr is trying to get back to Washington, facing off against former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk to replace the retiring Rep. Phil Gingrey, who also ran unsuccessfully for the Georgia Senate race. WHY IT MATTERS: Barr who served in the House from 1995 to 2003 is most well-known for helping lead the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and he’s seeking a comeback in this seat north of Atlanta. Tea party-backed Loudermilk beat Barr, coming in the initial primary 6,000 votes ahead of Barr. Barr -- who was the Libertarian candidate for president in 2008 -- was seen as the favorite thanks to his higher name recognition, but Loudermilk surprised with his initial victory and has even outraised Barr. Loudermilk went after Barr for writing a letter of recommendation six years ago for Attorney General Eric Holder. Barr says now he has called for his resignation. Barr has the backing of two of his primary opponents, while Loudermilk was backed by Sarah Palin.  There is no Democratic candidate for the seat, so the winner of this primary is guaranteed to fill this district’s congressional seat.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

EPA Office of Water Is Caught Playing Kim Kardashian Mobile Game


Glu Games, Inc.(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water works to ensure that drinking water is safe and focuses on the safety of aquatic ecosystems.But the office sent a tweet Monday night that didn’t have much to do with water.“I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” the tweet said in reference to her new gaming app. “Come join me and become famous too by playing on iPhone!”The tweet remained visible for hours, plugging the popular mobile game that allows you to join a cartoon version of Kardashian on a red carpet adventure, performing tasks to increase your celebrity profile.Thousands of people responded to the tweet, sharing it and commenting as confusion grew. Eventually, it was deleted.The game’s developers, Glu Games, poked fun at the situation, writing “Keep at it @EPAwater, you’ll get there.” Keep at it @EPAwater, you'll get there. #AList #WillowPapeIsTheWorst #KimKardashianGame— Glu Games (@glumobile) July 22, 2014 U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., wondered what happened: I'm the last original author of the Clean Water Act, but I have no idea who/what a Kardashian is and I rarely play games. You OK, @EPAwater?— John Dingell (@john_dingell) July 22, 2014 Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, from Texas was more blunt: I hope the Kardashians don't mind being associated with something that spends millions without contributing to society. @EPAwater— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) July 22, 2014 Others found humor in the office’s mistake, as well as its C-List status. Congrats @EPAwater on your Kardashian game success. If you can solve Kim K's complex problems, you can do great things with our environment.— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) July 22, 2014  Glad to know @EPAwater employees (paid by taxpayers) are hard at work playing Kim Kardashian games on their iPhones. pic.twitter.com/FfOcnE7NiW— Eli Rubenstein (@EliRubenstein) July 22, 2014  .@EPAwater Would you classify that Kardashian game a Superfun site?— delrayser (@delrayser) July 22, 2014  @EPAwater, how wonderful! Nothing wrong with C list. pic.twitter.com/8VJcDmwed5— Adam Verran (@AdamVerran) July 22, 2014 Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hillary Clinton: Israel 'Provoked' by Hamas


Kendra Helmer/USAID(NEW YORK) -- During back-to-back Facebook and Twitter chats Monday evening, Hillary Clinton weighed in again on the growing tensions in the Middle East, reiterating her hope for a ceasefire in the region and stressing her view that Israel has largely been “provoked” by Hamas throughout the conflict.“You mention in particular the difficulties we currently are seeing in the Middle East because of the actions by Hamas, first to rain rockets on to Israel. Israel being provoked,” Clinton told Twitter’s VP of Global Media (and former State Department employee), Katie Jacob Stanton, when asked how social media has changed diplomacy between conflicting nations, particularly with IDF and Hamas, who regularly communicate via Twitter.She added: “I do think that was part of the Hamas calculation, to provoke Israel to respond to defend itself, which any nation has to do if you are under attack like that.”Clinton went on to give an idealistic view of how social media should be used between countries: “It is a fact of social media right now that too often people use it as a weapon, instead of an opportunity. And maybe one of the ways we can think together about the next phase in the development of social media is as a tool of outreach, a tool of reconciliation, a tool of negotiation, and maybe even resolution.” Earlier in the day during the Facebook Q&A, Clinton, who as secretary of state helped to negotiate the last ceasefire in November 2012, said she hopes there can be another ceasefire soon to end the current conflict, and added that she is “fully supportive” of Secretary Kerry’s efforts do so.Secretary Kerry is currently in Cairo, Egypt where he is working to negotiate a ceasefire in the Gaza strip. Early Monday he announced the U.S. would give $47 million in aid to Gaza and voiced “concern” over civilian deaths -- more than 583 Palestinians and 27 Israelis over the past two weeks -- and meanwhile reaffirmed support for Israel’s self-defense.Hillary Clinton’s comments were part of the two social media chats she participated in Monday during a swing through Silicon Valley, where she visited the headquarters of Google, Facebook, and Twitter.  In addition to the Middle East, Hillary Clinton answered questions about Ukraine, saying there “was no doubt” in her mind that the Ukrainian separatists were getting help from Russia and pushed for European nations to enact stricter sanctions on Putin; abortion rights, where she again slammed the Hobby Lobby ruling; and college tuition, which she says, “costs too much.”During the Twitter chat, Clinton took questions not only from users who submitted them using the hashtag #AskHillary, but from a range of high-profile friends and celebrities, which drew a bit of cynical skepticism from people watching online.The questions came from Amy Poehler (who Clinton conceded “did do a really wicked imitation of me.”), Malala Yousafzai, Melinda Gates, and Scandal star Kerry Washington (who Clinton called “terrific.”) In addition, soccer star, Julie Foudy, snuck in a question about 2016, asking who would be her VP pick. But Clinton didn’t even pretend to answer.“I’m going to take a pass on that,” she said and moved on.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

President Obama Backs Statehood for DC


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- While there's a new move afoot in California to split it into six states, there has been talk for years about making Washington, D.C. the 51st state.On Monday, President Obama revealed that he supports the idea of statehood for the District of Columbia.The president explained his rationale like this: "Folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else."According to Obama, he's no Johnny Come Lately to making Washington a state, claiming that he's long been behind the idea.However, the president acknowledged that getting Congress to approve statehood for D.C., just like other initiatives he's promoted during his five-plus years in office, would no doubt be difficult.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Gun Control Takes Center Stage on Chris Christie Conn. Trip


Governor's Office/Tim Larsen(GREENWICH, Conn.) -- When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled to Connecticut to campaign with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, the issue of gun control dominated the evening.Outside one of the fundraisers Christie attended, he was greeted by about 170 protesters angry at his decision in July to veto legislation that would have banned magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition. In this state still reeling from the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, protesters from Newtown, Connecticut held signs that said "Not One More" and "Be a Gun Sense Voter."At a diner he stopped at with Foley earlier he was asked by a voter from Newtown how he would limit gun violence in the nation without limiting access to high-capacity magazines, and Christie answered that he believes there is, "no evidence that high capacity magazines does anything to limit violence.""If you really want to limit mass violence in the country, you need to get at the mental health system in this country, which doesn't deal with these folks," Christie told the man named Richard Boritz. "Every one of these instances of mass killings, we had people with significant mental health issues. And that needs to be dealt with. It's not the sexy part of it. It's not the stuff that gets you big headlines when you are a politician. It's the stuff that actually gets the job done. So I think we should stop doing the headline-grabbing stuff and start doing the actual work that makes a difference."Boritz attempted to continue the conversation, but Christie said he is "not engaged in a debate." "You asked a question," Christie told him. "That's my answer. I am not going to debate you. If you run against me someday I will debate you all you like."Newtown families attempted to meet with Christie the day he vetoed the legislation and they have accused him of refusing to meet with them. On Monday, Christie told reporters that he met with the families a year ago, but he, "didn't feel like it was necessary to meet with them again, especially after I had made the decision.""The fact is we have an honest disagreement," Christie told reporters at the diner. "Now people on issues across this country can disagree, we disagree. I made the decision that I felt was best, they disagreed, that is certainly their prerogative to do so and to express themselves."He added that he has "nothing but sympathy" for the families, but he doesn't believe the bill in New Jersey, which passed the Democratic controlled state legislature, was an, "effective way to deal with it so I vetoed it; it's a difference of opinion, but it's nothing personal."Foley chose not to reveal if he agreed with Christie's veto.Christie was also asked if he thought he could be a viable 2016 presidential candidate if he did not veto the bill and he answered, "I don't make decisions on what bills to sign or veto based upon someone's perception of viability."The protesters gathered at the bottom of a private road leading to the home of the fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association, where Christie serves as chairman. Katherine Morosky of Newtown, accompanied by her 7-year-old daughter Marie, held a politically-charged sign that read, "Stop Playing Politics, Children's Lives are Not Trivial, Fewer Bullets Save Lives."It was a reference to what Christie said in his veto message, writing he could, "not support such a trivial approach to the sanctity of human life."Marie was not a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, but her mother claimed she was friends with five of the children killed, as well as some of the surviving children who were able to escape when Adam Lanza reloaded. Morosky said she was "extremely offended" by Christie's veto, adding mental health is an issue, but there is still "easy access" for those with mental illness to ammunition making it possible to "kill 25 people in five minutes.""It's such easy access to those weapons used for war and you can take out a lot more people out that way," Morosky said of the higher-capacity magazines. "It makes a very big difference."Sandy Hook resident Cindy Carlson held a sign that read, "My Kids are Not Trivial," and said those moments when a murderer reloads is crucial. "The difference is when a person with bad intentions must stop and reload it gives potential victims time to escape," she said.Christie and Foley appeared at the Glory Days Diner, appropriate for the devoted Bruce Springsteen fan. He was greeted there by a supportive crowd, with one woman shouting at the possible 2016 presidential candidate, "Hey good looking!" Another woman told him she once received a kiss from President George W. Bush so she needed one from him. He obliged saying to the cameras surrounding him, "You gotta do what you gotta do" with a smile.  Foley ran previously in 2010 losing to current Gov. Dannel Malloy by just over 6,000 votes. One of the fundraisers Monday night was for the RGA and the other was to raise money for the Connecticut GOP, that one was held at the home of former hedge fund manager Brian Olson.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Will National Guard Help Stop Illegal Immigrant Influx in Texas?


Office of the Governor Rick Perry(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls it "Operation Strong Safety," but critics say it's closer to "operation symbolic act."Perry announced Monday that 1,000 National Guard troops would be deployed over the next month to the southern border. But by law, they can't make arrests and instead will act only as a "visual deterrent.""What we're asking the National Guard to do is to be a force multiplier, to be there as a partner with the law enforcement," Perry said Monday at a news conference. "Which they have done multiple times before."In 2006 and 2010, presidents Bush and then Obama ordered the National Guard in to assist border patrol. In 2006, operation Jump Start brought 6,000 National Guard to work mainly in non-law enforcement duties, relieving the Border Patrol agents in those positions to move into border security rules.But because the governor, and not the president, has ordered this deployment, the troops are unable to move into U.S. Customs and Border Protection jurisdiction without a coordinated effort with the federal government.The Texas general in charge confirmed his troops cannot physically detain or send any of the thousands of surging immigrants, many of them mothers and children, back across the border."We are planning on referring and deterring -- so deterring with a visible presence," Major General Nichols, Adjutant General of Texas National Guard, said at the news conference.And the troops cannot use their weapons to stop illegal immigration."You are not allowed to fire on someone who is fleeing away," Thad Bingel, former Chief of Staff for U.S. Customs and Border Protection under President Bush told ABC News Monday. "They can use their weapons in self-defense only if they are threatened by physical harm."Ralph Basham, CBP commissioner under Bush (2006-2009), agreed, telling ABC News that they weapons they carry "are strictly for self-defense," and the National Guard is, "limited in terms of what they could do.""They could best be used to go down and literally set up tents and medical facilities and housing and food services. And things that the border patrol are being asked to do today," Basham said.White House press secretary Josh Earnest characterized the governor's action Monday as a publicity stunt."What we're hopeful is that Gov. Perry will not just take these kinds of steps that are generating the kind of headlines I suspect he intended, but will actually take the kinds of steps that will be constructive to solving the problem over the long term," Earnest said.Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified in June that he'd want to, "understand better what the options are for the use of the Guard," and cited concerns about their limitations.The National Guard, "can't be directly involved in law enforcement," he said. "And Department of Defense has a lot to say about this as well. It's their resource, comes out of their budget. Lot of demands on the Guard, particularly in this season, hurricane season."The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (updated in 1981) works to limit the federal government's use of the military to enforce state laws and, as such, bars it from performing tasks of civilian law enforcement such as arrests or apprehensions.That could be why the head of the Border Patrol made it clear in a June interview with ABC News that the Guard isn't needed."I don't see the National Guard being particularly good help in this instance," said CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. "Many of these people are not people that we're having to apprehend or chase, these are people that are turning themselves in asking for some type of status here in the United States."Perry maintains that the use of the Guard will serves as, "a deterrent effect on criminal and illegal activity along the border," at a cost of $12 million per month -- a figure he plans to ask the federal government to reimburse.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts Awarded Medal of Honor for Valor in Afghanistan


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts is the sole survivor of an outpost that came under fierce attack in one of the bloodiest battles of the war in Afghanistan. On Monday, the former paratrooper became the ninth living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan."In Ryan Pitts you see the humility and the loyalty that define America's men and women in uniform," President Obama said at a White House ceremony.Pitts insists that the honor is not his alone. It's a distinction he shares with the men he fought alongside that fateful day in the summer of 2008. Nine died and 27 were wounded, including Pitts, in the battle of Wanat, one of the fiercest of the entire war."Valor was everywhere that day and the real heroes are the nine men who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us could return home,"  Pitts told reporters Monday. "It is their names, not mine, that I want people to know."It was before dawn when hundreds of Taliban fighters launched their attack, far outnumbering the United States troops defending their partially completed base outside the village of Wanat in northeastern Afghanistan.For nearly two hours, Pitts, who was 22 years old at the time, helped fend off the enemy fighters from his isolated observation post. After suffering severe shrapnel wounds and being patched up by a fellow soldier who was later killed, Pitts crawled from position to position, lobbing grenades and firing at the enemy, resigning himself to certain death, the president said."As the insurgents moved in, Ryan picked up a grenade, pulled the pin, and held that live grenade -- for a moment, then another, then another -- finally hurling it so they couldn't throw it back. And he did that again. And he did it again," the president explained."Unable to stand, Ryan pulled himself up on his knees and manned a machine gun. Soldiers from the base below made a daring run, dodging bullets and explosions, and joined the defense. But now the enemy was inside the post -- so close they were throwing rocks at the Americans, so close they came right up to the sandbags. Eight American soldiers had now fallen. And Ryan Pitts was the only living soldier at that post," Obama said.The enemy got so close that Pitts could hear their voices. "He whispered into the radio he was the only one left and was running out of ammo," Obama said.The battle later spurred an investigation and, as the president noted, a report concluded Wanat had "significant vulnerabilities." As Commander-in-Chief, the president said one way to honor the fallen is, "by heeding the lessons of Wanat.""When this nation sends our troops into harm's way, they deserve a sound strategy and a well-defined mission. And they deserve the forces and support to get the job done," he said. "That's how we can truly honor all those who gave their lives that day. … They're hard lessons, but they're ones that are deeply engrained in our hearts."Pitts now lives in Nashua, N.H., where he works in business development for a software company. He is married and has a 1-year-old son, Lucas. Monday is also his second wedding anniversary."As Ryan put it, it's going to be tough topping this one, as anniversaries go," the president joked. "But let me just give you a piece of advice as somebody who now has been married for over 20 years: You should try."ABC News | ABC Sports NewsFollow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Close Encounters with Vladimir Putin: What Joe Biden and George W. Bush Saw


Sean Gallup/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- When Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush both looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin's eyes, they each saw very different things.Biden recently told The New Yorker's Evan Osnos of a 2011 meeting with Putin. The vice president got close to the Russian leader — so close, in fact, that the two nearly touched noses. Here's what happened:To illustrate his emphasis on personality as a factor in foreign affairs, Biden recalled visiting Putin at the Kremlin in 2011: "I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, 'It's amazing what capitalism will do, won't it? A magnificent office!' And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him.” Biden held his hand a few inches from his nose. "I said, 'Mr. Prime Minister, I'm looking into your eyes, and I don't think you have a soul.'"“You said that?” I asked. It sounded like a movie line."Absolutely, positively," Biden said, and continued,"And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, 'We understand one another.'" Biden sat back, and said, "This is who this guy is!"Although Biden looked at Putin and saw no soul, more than a decade earlier then-President George W. Bush saw something very different when he came eye-to-eye the Russian leader:"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue," Bush said according a BBC account. "I was able to get a sense of his soul. He’s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that’s the beginning of a very constructive relationship."Soul or no, Putin is coming under increasing pressure from world leaders in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week.On Monday, President Obama ratcheted up his rhetoric: "Given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia, and President Putin in particular, has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation," President Obama said.And over the weekend Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, was even more blunt: "I would say, Putin, you have to man up. You should talk to the world. You should say this was a mistake, if it was a mistake," she said in an interview with CNN.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Reveals His Top Five Secrets to Success


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking at an event Monday promoting My Brother's Keeper, an initiative designed to help at-risk youth navigate tough school districts, President Obama reflected on the principles that got him all the way to the White House.The president, who has remarked that he sees himself reflected in struggling young men of color just like the ones who crowded into D.C. Walker Jones Educate Campus to hear him speak, said he hopes the My Brother's Keeper Mentor program can keep boys from slipping through the cracks.Here are Obama's top five tips for success:1. Find Out What Makes You Tick "Figure out what it is that you care about passionately, something that you think is important to you, because if nothing's important to you, you're not going to put in the work," the president told the kids."Everybody's got different talents and everybody's got different passions, and some — part of the goal of My Brother's Keeper is to expose you to more things so that you don't think that the only thing you can be passionate about is what you're seeing on TV," the president said."Part of the problem with young men of color is oftentimes the only thing they see to be passionate about is basketball or rap," he added. "We want to make sure you get exposed to graphic design or you're exposed to engineering or you're exposed to being a lawyer, so that maybe you will be passionate about that."2. Practice Makes Perfect"Work — it's a pretty simple concept," Obama said. "There is nothing worthwhile where it just falls in your lap."Explaining that just as basketball players must build muscle in order to nail the shot, academics must hone their craft. But the metaphor, the president noted, often gets lost in translation."It's interesting, you talk to the young people about basketball, and they kind of understand that [practice is necessary]," the president said."But for some reason, you think the same doesn't apply to school. There is no reason why you should think that you will be a good reader if you don’t read a lot, and read books that are hard, as opposed to just books that are easy. There's no reason to think that you will be good at mathematics if you are not doing math problems and pushing yourself and trying math problems that are hard, not just ones that are easy," Obama said, drawing applause from the crowd.3. There Is No 'I' in Team"Understand that you will not achieve by yourself, which means that you've got to be able to invest in relationships with other people who you can learn from, who will support you, who you will support in turn," said Obama, who said he plans to take on a mentee through the My Brother's Keeper program."You have to expand your network of people who can support you, give you ideas, buck you up when you’re down," he continued. "Of course, the flip side is, though, you can't just take. You also got to give. So you've got to show enthusiasm. You've got to want to be involved. You've got to be curious."4. No Slacking"I don't care how bad your school is. There's a teacher in there somewhere who, if you went up to her or him and said, 'I really want to learn. Can you help me?' that teacher would snatch you up in a second, because they want to feel like they're doing a good job," the president said."But if you're just sitting in the back of the class slouching and complaining about how bad the school is, well, then, you know — you may be right to be angry that you don't have enough school supplies or the building's bad or what have you — but it's not going to help you," he said.5. Haters Gonna Hate, but That’s Okay"When you're young, it is natural to care a lot about what your peers think of you. That's, that's just human. And there's nothing wrong with that," said Obama, who is currently grappling with some of the lowest approval numbers of his presidency."At some point, to be a man or a woman, to be an adult, to be a full-grown person, you have to move beyond just what other people think and you have to make a determination about what do you believe in," he said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Members of Congress Plan to Live on Minimum Wage for a Week


Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- A trio of Democratic politicians are about to find out what it's like to be poor. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Rep. Jan Schkowsky, D-Ill., and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, announced Monday that they plan to "step into the shoes of a minimum wage worker and live for one week on just $77."It's part of the Live the Wage Challenge starting Thursday— marking the fifth anniversary since Congress last increased the nation's minimum wage.From July 24 to July 30, the three politicians will chronicle their experiences on social media in an effort to shed light on the challenges facing minimum wage workers across the country.A minimum wage of $10.10 pegged to cost-of-living increases would provide Americans who "work hard and play by the rules" a chance at joining the middle class, Ryan said during a call with reporters.Strickland echoed the congressman's sentiments, saying that full-time workers should not have to "live in poverty or have to choose between food and electricity every month."The federal minimum wage in the United States is currently set at $7.25 an hour — and has not been increased by Congress since 2009. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has remained at $2.13 an hour since 1991.According to a statement on its website, "the Live the Wage Challenge has called on elected officials, community leaders, advocates and anyone concerned about the growing inequality in this country to walk in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by living on a minimum wage budget for one week."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Senate to Probe Flaws with Black Lung Program


Miner Gary Fox is pictured. (Courtesy Fox family)(WASHINGTON) -- Lawmakers have called a hearing to address concerns that for years a federal labor program may have unfairly denied benefits for coal miners who suffer from black lung disease.“The current system of black lung claims has proven to be rife with problems, leading to undue denials and lengthy delays in miners’ pursuit of justice,” said Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., who is part of an effort in Congress to reform the program.Casey said he called the Senate committee hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, to “begin to look at the root causes of these issues and begin to outline possible legislative solutions.”Flaws with the federal black lung program were highlighted last fall in a year-long ABC News investigation with the Center for Public Integrity, and already, the U.S. Department of Labor has pledged to take a fresh look at cases that relied on the medical opinions of a leading Johns Hopkins doctor whose work for coal companies helped lead to benefits being denied to thousands of miners over the last two decades.The reports demonstrated examples of miners who were denied benefits based on doctors’ conclusions that they did not have severe black lung, only to have autopsies prove -- after their deaths -- that they had the disease.Casey is among several lawmakers from coal producing states who have voiced concern following the ABC News-CPI report.In an interview for ABC News’ original report, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, called the findings "a total, national disgrace.""The deck is stacked in theory and in practice against coal miners, men and women, and it is tragic," he said.Casey said the “serious and thought provoking” news reports “helped provide momentum” for the congressional hearing.“There's still a good deal of legislative work we have to do to make sure we're putting in place a law, or the elements of a law, so that this kind of fraud can't be perpetrated again,” he told ABC News in June.One of those scheduled to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety is the Labor Department's senior attorney, Patricia Smith. She told ABC News in June that the agency is preparing to notify every miner whose benefits were denied based in part on the doctor's X-ray readings that they should consider reapplying for those benefits."This sends a signal that the Department of Labor hasn't sent in a long time," Casey said. "That they're not going to tolerate a system that's rigged."The Labor Department action came in response to the report by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity that found the head of the Hopkins black lung program, Dr. Paul S. Wheeler, had not reported a single instance of severe black lung in the more than 1,500 claims that the news outlets reviewed going back to the year 2000. Labor department officials said they were unaware of Wheeler's record until the ABC News report was broadcast."It was shocking," Smith said.A Labor Department bulletin sent out to district directors in June instructed them to "(1) take notice of this reporting and (2) not credit Dr. Wheeler's negative readings... in the absence of persuasive evidence" that challenge the conclusions of the news organizations."My judgment of his credibility is that unless someone can convince us otherwise, that anyone who has done that many readings and never found black lung isn't probably credible," Smith said.In court testimony in 2009, Wheeler said the last time he recalled finding a case of severe black lung, a finding that would automatically qualify a miner for benefits under a special federal program, was in "the 1970's or the early '80's."Hopkins suspended Wheeler's black lung unit a few days after the ABC News/CPI report was broadcast and posted online.Hopkins said it would conduct its own internal investigation, which a spokesperson said remains ongoing."We take these allegations very seriously and are still conducting the investigation into the [black lung] program," Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said in a June email. "While our investigation is ongoing, nobody at Hopkins -- including Dr. Wheeler -- is performing" black lung X-ray readings.Reached by phone in June, Wheeler said he hopes to be cleared by the internal Hopkins investigation -- which he said is being conducted by the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs."The hospital still believes in my approach," he said.Wheeler told ABC News then he was unmoved by the Labor Department bulletin."They're not doctors," he said. "If they were from qualified medical institutions, I would be very unhappy."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

After Bitter Senate Runoff, Georgia Republicans Will Pick Candidate


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two months of Republican-on-Republican badmouthing will finally come to an end in Georgia on Tuesday.Either Rep. Jack Kingston or former Dollar General CEO David Perdue will become the GOP candidate for the state's open Senate seat, to be vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, kicking off what’s expected to be one of the most hotly contested elections in the country.The top two finishers in a seven-way May 20 primary, Perdue (30.6 percent in that vote) and Kingston (25.8 percent) have run an intensely negative race against each other ever since.Each candidate has sought to be regarded as the more conservative.Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, has aired a string of TV ads assailing Kingston as a big spender who will continue Washington’s current ways.In his own series of negative ads, Kingston has relentlessly questioned Perdue’s business record, pointing to layoffs, offshoring and a bailout by a government agency at companies with which Perdue was involved. Kingston has also hit Perdue for failing to vote in previous GOP primaries and has accused him of backing the Common Core education plan, which Perdue has said numerous times he does not.Prompted by none of the seven initial-round primary candidates surpassing 50 percent of the vote in May, the runoff has bought time for Democrat Michelle Nunn, a candidate who has raised Democratic hopes of taking a Senate seat in a deep-red GOP stronghold.The daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and the former CEO of President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, Nunn has faced questions about her stance on Obamacare (she supports modifications to it, won’t say whether she would have voted for it and has opposed repeal), but Nunn has largely avoided direct attacks from the Republican candidates running against each other.Polling has shown a real possibility of Nunn winning in November: In early May, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey showed her beating Perdue by one percentage point (statistically even) and topping Kingston by 10 in prospective matchups.Despite an electorate comprised of 41 percent minorities among active registered voters, no Democrat has won a statewide election in Georgia since Sen. Zell Miller in 2000, and no Democratic presidential candidate has come within 5 percentage points of winning Georgia since Bill Clinton carried it in 1992, eking out a win from George H.W. Bush by fewer than 1 percentage point.After the runoff, the winner can be expected to ramp up attacks on Nunn. A conservative group, the Ending Spending PAC, reportedly bought air time last week to attack her with a round of ads.“After the Republican primary run off, the joyride for Michelle Nunn will come to an abrupt end,” Georgia GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Has 'Serious Concerns' About Middle East Death Toll


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Monday warned that the United States has “serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.”Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, the president said “it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.”Obama noted that Secretary of State John Kerry has departed for the Middle East, where he has instructed Kerry to push for an immediate cease-fire. “Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved. Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities. We don’t want to see anymore civilians getting killed,” Obama said.Once again, the president reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself and said “as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Demands 'Full Access' to Malaysia Airlines Crash Site


The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Issuing a stern call for “immediate and full access” to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, President Obama on Monday said the behavior of the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine begs the question, “what exactly are they trying to hide?”“They have repeatedly prevented international investigators from gaining full access to the wreckage,” the president said. “These Russian-backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site, oftentimes without the care that we would normally expect from a tragedy like this. And this is an insult to those who’ve lost loved ones. It’s the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations.”“Our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened and putting forward the facts. We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists,” Obama told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.  Delivering his strongest statement yet on the crash and investigation, the president said the burden is on Russia, and particularly President Vladimir Putin, to compel the separatists to cooperate with the investigation. “President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation. And I appreciate those words, but they have to be supported by actions,” Obama said. “The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site. The separatists and their Russian sponsors are responsible for the safety of the investigators doing their work.”“Now is the time for President Putin and Russia to pivot away from the strategy that they’ve been taking and get serious about trying to resolve hostilities within Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and respects the right of the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions about their own lives.  And time is of the essence,” he said.  Obama reiterated that he still prefers to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. “I believe that can still happen. That is my preference today. And it will continue to be my preference,” he said. But Obama also warned Russia that if Moscow continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and back the separatists, “then Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Calls Australian Prime Minister on MH17 Investigation


Credit: The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama spoke with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Sunday night regarding the situation surrounding the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down over eastern Ukraine last week.Obama and Abbott agreed that the ongoing international investigation must be "prompt, full, unimpeded and transparent." Speaking for the second time in three days, the leaders also agreed that Russia has a responsibility to use its "extraordinary influence with the pro-Russian separatists who control the crash site" to inspire cooperation, a readout of the call said.The two nations agreed to continue to coordinate closely during the course of the investigation. The Sunday call echoed the main points made during the initial call between Obama and Abbott on Friday afternoon.Obama, speaking from the South Lawn of the White House on Monday, said Russian-backed separatists, who are controlling the crash site, need to allow investigators to recover bodies. He said they had previously fired their weapons in the air when investigators approached the scene and have tampered with evidence."Russia, and President Putin in particular, has a direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation," Obama said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama to Honor Army Staff Sgt. with Medal of Honor


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is set to honor a veteran from the war in Afghanistan with the Medal of Honor on Monday, the ninth living recipient of the award from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts fought off attackers and protected his fellow soldiers six years ago last week. Pitts will receive the honor in a ceremony slated to begin at 3 p.m. Monday.According to the U.S. Army, Pitts, a New Hampshire native, enlisted in 2003. He deployed twice to Afghanistan, with tours of duty beginning in 2005 and 2007.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Signs Executive Order Expanding Employment Protections for LGBT Workers


The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama signed an executive order at the White House on Monday that will protect LGBT employees from discrimination.The order will prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against their LGBT employees or from discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment.While it is already illegal to discriminate in hiring based on race, religion, gender and a number of other grounds, Obama believes more can still be done to further protections on sexual identification.Despite the action taken by Obama on Monday, Congress would have to act to extend such protections to private employers.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama to Sign Executive Order Expanding Employment Protections for LGBT Workers


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will sign an executive order at the White House on Monday that will protect LGBT employees from discrimination.The order will prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against their LGBT employees or from discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment.While it is already illegal to discriminate in hiring based on race, religion, gender and a number of other grounds, Obama believes more can still be done to further protections on sexual identification.Despite the action taken by Obama on Monday, Congress would have to act to extend such protections to private employers.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Kerry to Travel to Cairo Monday, Push for Gaza Cease-Fire


Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department said Sunday that Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Cairo, Egypt on Monday to meet with senior officials on the ongoing tensions in Gaza."The United States -- and our international partners -- are deeply concerned about the risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life," a State Department statement said.Kerry is expected to support a push for a ceasefire, similar to a truce agreed upon in November 2012. Kerry is also expected to meet with Egyptian officials, as well as other officials from nations in the region. The Egyptian government has pushed for a ceasefire agreement that is supported by both the United States and Israel, however, Hamas rejected the proposal.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Gallup: Republican Race for 2016 Nomination Wide Open


ABC/Ida Mae Astute(WASHINGTON) -- A new Gallup poll found that four contenders for the GOP nomination in the 2016 presidential election stand well above the rest.According to the latest polling data, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each "familiar" to more than 60 percent of Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents. They also each have favorability ratings of +40 or better. Candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are about as familiar to voters as the above four, however, they each have below average favorability scores. Other candidates considered in the Gallup poll included Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose favorability is countered by a lack of familiarity to nearly half of voters polled. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker were also considered, but received low ratings among voters in both favorability and familiarity.Democratic voters gave former Bush the lowest favorability rating, while coming closest to showing approval for Jindal, who received unfavorable ratings from just 12 percent more Democratic voters than favorable ratings. While the election remains over two years away, the Gallup poll indicates that while Hillary Clinton holds the position of front-runner for the Democratic nomination, no such position exists on the Republican side.Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pentagon: It 'Strains Credulity' That Separatists Didn't Get Russian Help with M


Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It “strains credulity” that Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine did not get some Russian help in operating the sophisticated air defense missile system that brought down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, the Pentagon said Friday.But with or without assistance, a Pentagon spokesman cautioned that the U.S. still does not have firm information as to who fired the missile.There is strong evidence that the SA-11 surface-to-air missiles was fired from territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists, but it’s still unclear who fired the missile, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.“Whether it was a Russian military unit that did it or it was a separatist unit that did it, we don’t know,” Kirby said. “Whether it was a system that was driven across the border by Russians and then handed off, we don’t know. We just don’t know.”However, Kirby said it “strains credulity” that such a sophisticated piece of technology “could be used by separatists without at least some measure of Russian support and technical assistance.”On June 30 NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove said that Russia had provided training for “vehicle-borne” air defense systems to Russian separatists.Kirby said Friday “there’s no question” that kind of training had occurred inside Russia, though it remained unclear who was doing the training.He said the U.S. had taken that training seriously and referred to a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) cautioning commercial flights over Ukraine to fly at higher altitudes. He did not know if the NOTAM was prompted by the training in vehicle-borne air defense systems, but said “if you’re going to issue a warning like that, it’s based on concerns that you have about surface-to-air missile activity and capabilities.”The U.S. has detected heavy Russian weaponry, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, being shipped across the border into Ukraine for use by the separatists. But the Pentagon’s top spokesman said he had no indications to suggest that an SA-11 system had been brought into Ukraine from Russia though “we’re not ruling anything out at this point.”Kirby cautioned that “we don’t have perfect visibility into every capability that the separatists have,” but he noted that the U.S. believed the Russian separatists aspired to have access to an air defense capability — both portable and vehicle-borne.Russian separatists used shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to bring down two helicopters and a plane in June and may have used a bigger air defense system to bring down a Ukrainian military transport plane on Monday.There continue to be 10,000 to 12,000 Russian troops along the border with Ukraine, Kirby said, noting that the size of that force has steadily increased over time. Their presence only serves to escalate tensions and “it’s difficult to know what the intent is,” he said.There are no plans for a Pentagon representative to be a part of the U.S. team that will help in the international investigation in Ukraine, Kirby said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

President Clinton Used Multiple-Choice Question Memos to Plan Trips


HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When it came to planning his travels, President Clinton‘s options were as simple as yes, no, or maybe. According to documents released Friday, decisions regarding his presidential trips were distilled down into multiple-choice memos.The memos contain a series of descriptions of various travel options. They detail when the president and first lady would depart, where they would stay, who they would meet, what they would attend. Each description concludes with a question and a series of answers.Though most of the answer choices were “yes,” “no,” or “discuss,” some gave the president a bit more discretion.On a dinner and yacht-ride invitation from the king and queen of Spain, for example, President Clinton was given five choices: reject or accept the entire invitation, choose the dinner or the boat ride, or discuss.Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Feds Change Migrant Kids Health Screening After ABC News Exclusive


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In response to an ABC News exclusive on the breakdown in medical screening of unaccompanied migrant children along the southern United States border, the government agency in charge of housing the children announced “additional measures” including physically taking the temperature of each child before he or she boards a government plane to housing facilities across the country.The new measures, announced Friday by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the Department of Health and Human Services, are designed  to make sure the children screened and medically cleared while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection have “not fallen ill while pending transport to Unaccompanied Alien Children program facilities.”“CBP medical providers already check flight manifests against children who were identified as sick overnight; if there are any concerns, children destined for a DOD (Department of Defense) installation are pulled from the flight,” the ACF statement read. “Under the updated protocol, our staff also take the children’s temperatures shortly before flights. Any child with a fever and cough or sore throat is pulled from the flight, isolated from others and seen by a medical professional.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hagel Calls Malaysian Defense Minister, Offers Condolences on MH 17


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on Friday to offer condolences for those lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine on Thursday.Hagel offered personal condolences to Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the Defense Minister, whose step-grandmother was on board the plane. He also seconded President Obama's promise to provide U.S. support and aid to the ongoing investigation into the crash.Hagel and Hishamuddin discussed the security situation in Ukraine and how important it is to ensure investigators receive access to the crash site. The two sides agreed to continued dialogue during the course of the investigation.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama to Netanyahu: 'Deeply Concerned' About Further Escalation


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking by phone Friday morning, President Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he was “deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life,” as Israeli troops push deeper into Gaza.“We've indicated although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels,” Obama told reporters at the White House, noting that as he spoke with Netanyahu, sirens went off in Tel Aviv.On the call, Obama also “reaffirmed my strong support for Israel's right to defend itself,” saying “no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory.”“We are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and that all of us are working hard to return to the cease-fire that was reached in November of 2012,” the president said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

How World Leaders Might Respond to Malaysia Plane Disaster


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A day after a Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying nearly 300 people went down over Eastern Ukraine, President Obama on Friday called the incident an “outrage of unspeakable proportions.”Obama, for the first time, disclosed that at least one American citizen was killed: Quinn Lucas Schansman. And the president, echoing what U.S. officials said earlier in the day, stated that Flight 17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile.“This should snap everybody’s heads to attention,” Obama said, vowing to hold “accountable those who committed this outrage.”On Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain alluded to possible consequences Thursday if there is evidence of Russian involvement."There'll be hell to pay,” McCain told ABC News.But how will the world hold the perpetrators “accountable” and what “hell” might be paid? Here are the possible responses from the U.S. and world leaders:Increase Pressure for a Cease-FireThis is already happening. On Friday, Obama said: “Russia, pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine must adhere to an immediate cease-fire."He added, "Evidence must not be tampered with."The president also condemned Russia’s role in the border conflict.“The violence that’s taken place there is facilitated in part, in large part, because of Russian support. And they have the ability to move those separatists in a different direction,” he said.Push for an International InvestigationThe president called for an international investigation, saying the U.S. has already offered support of the FBI and National Transportation Safety Board.“Our immediate focus will be on recovering those who are lost [and] investigating exactly what happened,” Obama said.Other world leaders -- including U.S. allies like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron -- have echoed that call for an investigation.Impose More SanctionsObama did not close the door on imposing additional sanctions against Russia.“We will continue to make clear that as Russia engages in efforts that are supporting the separatists, that we have the capacity to increase the costs that we impose on them,” he said. “And we will do so not because we're interested in hurting Russia for the sake of hurting Russia, but because we believe in standing up for the basic principle that a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has to be respected.”Any extra sanctions would come on the heels of a new wave of sanctions announced by Obama on Wednesday.“These sanctions are significant but they are also targeted, designed to have the maximum effect on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies,” the president added. “The Russian leadership will see once again that its action has consequences.”The sanctions unveiled earlier this week targeted Russian banks and energy and defense firms.Get the U.S. Military InvolvedThis option is not likely -- at least not right now. The president was clear in his remarks at the White House on Friday: “We don’t see a U.S. military role beyond what we’ve already been doing.”But on Thursday, McCain did suggest the U.S. should provide arms to the Ukrainian military if Russian involvement is proved.Ask Europe to Take the LeadThe U.S. may encourage European leaders to respond in a stronger manner to any possible Russian involvement in the downing of the Malaysian plane.“This certainly will be a wake-up call for Europe,” Obama said.Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested on Thursday that European leaders should take the lead on responding to any Russian involvement.“The Europeans have to be the ones to take the lead on this,” Clinton said in an interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose Thursday. “It was a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, over European territory. There should be outrage in European capitals.”European leaders will likely be asked to join the U.S. in imposing tougher sanctions against Russia. Additionally, Clinton said the European countries should increase their efforts to find alternatives to Gazprom, a Russian entity which provides 30 percent of Europe’s natural gas.Ratchet Up DiplomacyThis all depends on how the investigation unfolds and how Russian President Vladimir Putin responds.The U.S. is already in steady contact with Ukrainian officials, but there is a chance diplomatic channels could open up between Russia and Ukraine -- if Putin is willing to come to the table.Prior to the plane incident, Obama said he told Putin the United States’ “preferred path is to resolve this diplomatically” and made clear that the Russian government needed to “make a strategic decision.”“Are they going to continue to support violent separatists whose intent is to undermine the government of Ukraine, or are they prepared to work with the government of Ukraine to arrive at a cease-fire and a peace that takes into account the interests of all Ukrainians?” Obama said.Do NothingSome believe the European Union may not do that much in response to the downed jetliner. European leaders might decide that any tough sanctions imposed against Russia might negatively affect Europe’s own economy.“Unless they discover a sanction that punishes Russia without punishing Europeans -- and the answer is they can’t -- I think the EU is going to show its mettle,” Graham Allison, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former assistant secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, told Politico.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio