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Boulder, Colo. Ordered to Stop Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses


iStock/Thinkstock(BOULDER COUNTY, Colo.) -- Colorado's Supreme Court is ordering Boulder County to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.Boulder began issuing the licenses in June after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled against a gay marriage ban in neighboring Utah, calling it unconstitutional. Now, Colorado's Supreme Court says Boulder must stop while an appeal is heard.Boulder County had been the only county in Colorado still issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.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 the Tea Party Started Impeachment Talk and Democrats Co-Opted It


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Talk of impeachment has been all the rage in Washington this summer.Democrats say Republicans are shilling for it. Republicans counter that the buzz is merely a Democratic fundraising ploy. So who really started it, and when?Almost immediately after Obama took office, conservative commentators on the fringes began toying with the idea of impeaching the president. Slowly but surely, the talk migrated into the mainstream as Republican lawmakers began to chime in.Back in 2010, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, told Lou Dobbs that Obama's actions on the border came "awfully close" to violating his "oath of office" -- an impeachable offense. And about a year later, Rep. Ted Yoho, an outspoken tea party congressman from Florida, outlined six reasons the president should be impeached in a post on his campaign website. Not long after, Texas GOP Rep. Michael Burgess said explicitly that impeachment "needs to happen."By this spring, at least 11 Republican lawmakers – Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Rep. Steve Stockman of Michigan and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, had floated the idea of impeachment, and several high-profile Republican candidates, including Iowa U.S. Senate hopeful Joni Ernst, put impeachment on the table. As June rolled around, and the weather warmed, impeachment talk heated up, too.Here's a brief history of how Republicans started the most recent outbreak of chatter, and how the Democrats have sought to use it to their advantage:June 4: Former Congressman Allen West, R-Fla., talks impeachment, calling Obama's handling of the Bowe Bergdahl deal "an impeachable offense.""Ladies and gentlemen, I submit that Barack Hussein Obama's unilateral negotiations with terrorists and the ensuing release of their key leadership without consult — mandated by law — with the U.S. Congress represents high crimes and misdemeanors, an impeachable offense," West wrote in his Washington Post op-ed.June 25: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, quashes the impeachment question. Asked whether his lawsuit against the president could be a precursor to impeachment proceedings, Boehner insists the suit "is not about impeachment."July 8: Sarah Palin raises the issue's profile. In an incendiary op-ed published by Breitbert, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee says "it's time to impeach" Obama."Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president," she writes. "His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the president say, 'No mas.'"July 10: When asked about her comments, Speaker Boehner brushes off Palin's remarks, saying simply, "I disagree."July 10: Palin's running mate, 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, is also asked to weigh in. He says he "respect[s] always Sarah Palin's views" but believes that impeachment "was not a good thing to do" to President Clinton and prefers to "devote our energies to regaining the majority in the Senate."July 23: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sends the first in a veritable flood of emails warning of the threat of impeachment, and soliciting donations.July 24: First lady Michelle Obama reportedly predicts "more" talk about impeachment if the Democrats lose the 2014 midterms. "If we lose these midterm elections, it's going to be a whole lot harder to finish what we started, because we'll just see more of the same out in Washington -- more obstructions, more lawsuits, and talk about impeachment," Obama said, according to the Washington Examiner.July 25: Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer tells reporters he "would not discount" the "possibility" of impeachment, noting that Boehner's lawsuit against the president "has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future."July 25: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterates Pfeiffer's point, saying "there are some Republicans, including Republicans who are running for office, hoping that they can get into office so that they can impeach the president," and rejects the notion that impeachment is a democratic fundraising ploy.July 27: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., unprompted, raises the issue in an interview on CNN."The Republicans are … on a path to impeach the president while we're trying to create jobs and have stability in our country and in the world. And I'm sorry that we didn't get a chance to talk more about that," she says.July 27: The DCCC circulates an email claiming that "House Republicans held a closed-door meeting to discuss impeaching President Obama," and urging Dem supporters to "throw everything we've got at this."July 29: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also blasts impeachment chatter. "Isn't it good that we're talking about this, rather than impeachment of the president?" Reid says in reference to the VA deal.July 29: Boehner calls talk of impeachment "a scam started by Democrats at the White House.""This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president's own staff. And coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill," the speaker said. "Why? Because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's elections. We have no plans to impeach the president."July 29: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoes Boehner, saying, "the only people I've heard mention [impeachment] are the White House and the majority leader."Despite all the gossip, history is on Obama's side. Only two U.S. presidents– Andrew Johnson, in 1868, and Bill Clinton, in 1998– have been impeached. (Richard Nixon voluntarily resigned before the House could impeach him.) And not once has presidential impeachment resulted in removal from office.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

The Mystery of the Presidential Golf Ball


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Looks like President Obama's back swing might need a little work.A customized golf ball was reportedly found in the woods off the first hole at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.The ball had "Titleist 44" printed on one side and "POTUS" on the other.Instagram user "larrydoh" claimed to have found the ball while playing a round of golf at Congressional Country Club over the weekend, writing "Looks like he's off line again" in his post Sunday.Congressional Country Club was unable to verify whether the president plays with such a golf ball, and Titleist did not respond to a request for comment.However, the presidential golf ball very well may belong to Obama — as he was golfing at Congressional over the weekend.President Obama played a round of golf Saturday with Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, co-hosts of ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption."And on the first hole, who wouldn't let POTUS take a mulligan?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

Chicago Mayor Says 'Kill Switch' on Cell Phones Could Decrease Theft


iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for cell phones to be equipped with a "kill switch."A kill switch would allow a cell phone owner to completely disable a phone if it is lost or stolen.Mayor Emanuel hopes the legislation would lead to a drop-off in thefts."So if one of the reasons on robbery, people are robbing, is for smart phones if it automatically switches off, it takes away the incentive for the robbers to actually take the smart phones, steal the smart phones," Emanuel said.Smart phone thefts have accounted for up to half of all street crime in some cities. Minnesota and California have already adopted the legislation.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

Five Things to Know About the New VA Secretary


MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Robert McDonald as the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, one month after President Obama nominated him for the post.McDonald was confirmed with a vote of 97-0. McDonald, a former CEO of Procter & Gamble, will join the VA as the embattled department tries to ease wait times for veterans by providing health care outside the VA system as well as hiring new doctors, nurses and clinicians at VA facilities.Here are five things that could help McDonald in his new position leading the VA.1. He Is a West Point GradMcDonald graduated in the top 2% of his class at West Point and went on to serve in the United States Army as an Airborne Ranger captain in the 82nd Airborne Division. During his confirmation hearing, McDonald told senators his experiences at West Point and in the military influenced his leadership style at Procter & Gamble and will help him at the VA."I am still guided by the West Point Cadet Prayer, which encourages us to 'choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong,'" McDonald said earlier this month.2. He Comes From a Military FamilyNot only did McDonald serve in the military, but so did multiple members of his family, including his father, who was part of the Army Air Corps after World War II. His wife's father became a POW after he was shot down over Europe, and his wife's uncle served in Vietnam, where he was exposed to Agent Orange, which he still receives treatment for through the VA system.3. He Worked at Procter & Gamble for 33 YearsMcDonald started his career at Procter & Gamble as a brand assistant, eventually making his way to the top of the company, where he managed more than 120,000 employees. Procter & Gamble is a unique company in that its employees are promoted from within, similar to the tradition of rising in the ranks in the military. Lawmakers who met with McDonald ahead of his confirmation said they were impressed with his management experience at Procter & Gamble.4. He Will Give Lawmakers His Personal Cell Phone NumberAt his confirmation hearing, McDonald said he would give his personal cell phone number to all the senators on the committee to make sure he is held accountable for his work at the VA, even if that means after-hours phone calls."Every member of the committee will have my cell phone number. And I would expect if we're not meeting your needs you will call me," McDonald said. "When you run a large corporation globally, you have a cell phone that's on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it gets called. And so if you have concerns I want to know about them and I want to react to them."5. He Compiled a List of What It Takes to Be a LeaderMcDonald wrote a list called "What I Believe In," which includes 10 principles he lives by and could be applied to his time at the VA.Here's the list: 1. Living a life driven by purpose is more meaningful and rewarding than meandering through life without direction. 2. Companies must do well to do good and must do good to well. 3. Everyone wants to succeed, and success is contagious. 4. Putting people in the right jobs is one of the most important jobs of the leader. 5. Character is the most important trait of a leader. 6. Diverse groups of people are more innovative than homogeneous groups. 7. Ineffective systems and cultures are bigger barriers to achievement than the talents of people. 8. There will be some people in the organization who will not make it on the journey. 9. Organizations must renew themselves. 10. The true test of the leader is the performance of the organization when they are absent or after they depart.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

Rand Paul, Cory Booker Tease Each Other on Making DC 'Hot' List


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Mirror mirror on the wall, are Rand Paul and Cory Booker the most beautiful of them all? The answer is yes, at least according to an annual assessment of D.C.’s best-looking people.The Hill released its annual "50 Most Beautiful" rankings on Tuesday, which included several lawmakers from Capitol Hill, including Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. The two senators ribbed each other on Twitter for making the list.Paul, who came in as the ninth-most beautiful person, took a jab at Booker for being listed in 44th place.In response, Booker, 45, noted that he and Paul, 51, were added out of "pity" instead of based on looks.Other lawmakers who made the list included Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.;  Donna Edwards, D-Md.; Tony Cardenas, D-Calif.; Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.; and Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio.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: New Sanctions Against Russia Will Have 'an Even Bigger Bite'


The White House(WASHINGTON) -- The United States will unleash a new round of sanctions against Russia in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, President Obama said on Tuesday."The cost on Russia will continue to grow," the president said in a statement at the White House. "Today is a reminder that the United States means what it says."Obama said Russia has, so far, "failed to cooperate with the investigations" into the downing of the Malaysian aircraft.Earlier Tuesday, the European Union agreed to a new package of sanctions on Russia -- for the first time imposing "sectoral" sanctions on Russia’s finance and energy industries, as well as banning arms exports to Russia.Obama called them the "most significant and wide-ranging sanctions to date."The EU says the sanctions will limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods for military end users, and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the field of the oil sector.Meanwhile, at the State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphasized the U.S. welcomed "Europe's determination to take strong new steps and the strong -- this trans-Atlantic community and G-7 are united in their determination to respond to continued and intensified Russian aggression."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 Confirms Robert McDonald as VA Secretary


Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Robert McDonald as the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Tuesday, one month after President Obama nominated him for the post.McDonald, a former CEO of Procter & Gamble, was confirmed with a vote of 97-0.Late Monday night, a conference committee advanced legislation to provide nearly $17 billion in funding to help ease VA wait times and provide veterans with faster access to healthcare both in and out of the VA system.The House and Senate hope to pass the legislation by the end of the week before August recess starts.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 Addresses Critics, Says He's Still Talking with Netanyahu


US Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that he is still talking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about achieving a lasting truce, saying the two men spoke again Monday night. “The prime minister talked to me about an idea and a possibility of a cease-fire, he raised it with me, as he has consistently,” Kerry said during a press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. Kerry also dismissed the criticism that has been directed at him, including a blistering op-ed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that likened him to “an alien, who just disembarked his spaceship in the Mideast.”“I've taken hits before in politics; I'm not worried about that. This is not about me,” the almost three-decade veteran of the U.S. Senate said. The Israelis have made no secret of their problems with a draft proposal Kerry gave them last week, which they contend gave too many concessions to Hamas. Kerry suggested that in this last conversation with Netanyahu, the prime minister underscored his desire for Israeli forces to continue destroying tunnels Hamas has built across the border.The United States supports the Israel Defense Forces’ ability to do so, but that provision was not explicitly laid out in the proposal Kerry submitted to Israel last week.“What we put on the table, in fact, allowed Israel -- let me make this clear -- allowed Israel to continue to deal with these tunnels even as they were in a short-term cease-fire to try to see if there was a way to reach a sustainable cease-fire,” Kerry insisted.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

Boehner Shoots Down Impeachment Talk, Blasts Dems


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner shot down talk of impeachment once again Tuesday, raising his voice as he blamed Democrats for trying to push the idea for political gain.“We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans,” Boehner said, answering a question from ABC News at a press conference. “Listen, it’s all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”A scam or not, Democrats say they are raising record amounts of money over the threat of impeaching President Obama. Republican leaders have repeatedly said they have no plans to call for articles of impeachment. But they are moving forward with a lawsuit against the president, accusing him of overreaching his executive authority, which has kept the talk of impeachment alive. The House is set to approve this rare lawsuit in a vote Wednesday.On the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid also seized on the impeachment idea.“We shouldn't be off on the tracks of impeachment and suing the president,” Reid said. “We should be legislating.”Democratic leaders have flooded supporters with fundraising appeals, including one that said: “House Republicans Refuse to Rule Out Impeachment.” The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it raised $2.1 million in online contributions last weekend alone.Boehner blasted Democrats at a press conference Tuesday for misleading Americans.“This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president’s own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill,” Boehner said. “Why? Because they’re trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in their year’s elections.”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

The Romneys Took a Summer Vacation and It Was Amazing


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- He’s reportedly worth around $250 million, so you might think Mitt Romney would opt for an opulent, luxurious vacation now that he’s out of the spotlight.Instead, the former presidential nominee, his wife, Ann, and five of their grandkids roughed it out in the “American West,” hiking over 50 miles cross-country, according to Mitt Romney’s post on the blogging site Medium.Romney says the (apparently enthusiastic) troupe visited Goblin Valley, Spooky Gulch, and Peekaboo Slot Canyon and even escaped “a very close encounter with a rattlesnake.”And along the way, grandpa entertained his “captive audience” with stories about their ancestors.“Ann’s side played instrumental roles in the foundation of the country, including William Bradford and Grover Cleveland. Mine were key to the establishment of our church and the settlement of the American West,” Romney explains.(These history lectures weren’t exactly out of the blue. During his presidential campaign, Romney was criticized for his highly-regimented vacations, which included non-optional athletic contests, and a chore wheel.)“We came away more appreciative of the landscape God gave us, of the sacrifices of the pioneers, and of the comforts of air conditioning and home cooked meals!” Romney wrote.Though the post was largely anecdotal in nature, the former politician couldn’t help but slip in an allusion to current events: “We were also sobered by the tragic events in Ukraine and Israel. ...As we experienced the grandeur of the West, our hearts went out to those millions in the world who suffer.”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

Americans Split over Crisis in Gaza


Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A plurality of Americans believes that the militant group Hamas is to blame for the violence that has erupted in Gaza for the past three weeks.A Pew Research poll release Monday found that 40 percent of respondents fault Hamas while 19 percent says Israel spurred the attacks.Meanwhile, 14 percent say both sides are to blame while 28 percent don't know who was responsible for violence.However, when broken down by political affiliation, the differences are starker.Sixty percent who identify themselves as Republicans blame Hamas while 13 percent hold Israel responsible.On the Democratic side, 29 percent says Hamas brought the violence in Gaza on themselves but 26 percent contend that it was Israel who is the aggressor.Meanwhile, younger respondents to the Pew poll are more inclined to blame Israel than those who are older.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

Gay Marriage: One Step Closer to the Supreme Court? Why Virginia Matters


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Though the Supreme Court issued a major opinion concerning gay rights in 2013, it has so far sidestepped the issue of whether states can ban gay marriages.The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Monday striking down Virginia's strict marriage laws brought the issue one step closer to the justices.It's the second time a federal appeals court has struck down a state ban since the Supreme Court ruling in United States vs. Windsor."We are talking about the Commonwealth of Virginia!" Theodore Olson, an attorney for the challengers of the gay marriage ban, exclaimed after the decision was handed down. "It's the birth place of George Washington."David Boies, another lawyer representing the challengers called the opinion "powerful" and said "it holds that the Virginia marriage laws seriously harm plaintiffs, and seriously harms the children that the plaintiffs raise."If, down the road, the Supreme Court were to adopt the 4th Circuit’s reasoning, "It would mean that everyone in every state in the nation would be able to marry the person that they love," Boies said, declining to speculate which case the Supreme Court might ultimately take up if it does indeed decide to take up one or more cases.It will take at least a few weeks for the 4th Circuit's ruling to go into effect. In the meantime, supporters of the law could ask for a re-hearing with either the full court of appeals or the Supreme Court.Though the opinion deals directly with Virginia's laws, the reasoning could apply to other states under the 4th Circuit's jurisdiction, "including to states with bans that, as the majority noted, are similar to Virginia's, including South Carolina, North Carolina, and West Virginia," said Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center.Boies noted that the opinion "does not depend upon anything that is unique to Virginia." "I think," he said, "it is clearly controlling law in all of the states in the Fourth Circuit."Because Virginia's attorney general has declined to defend the law, the conservative group, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has stepped in to represent clerks supporting the marriage law.After Monday's ruling, ADF's senior counsel Byron Babione released a statement, saying, "Every child deserves a mom and a dad, and the people of Virginia confirmed that at the ballot box when they approved a constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as a man-woman union."Babione has not announced any plans for appeal, but he said, "Ultimately, the question whether the people are free to affirm marriage as a man-woman union will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court."For some, Virginia is an important landmark because of the 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving vs. Virginia, regarding interracial marriage."It's appropriate that marriage for same-sex couples took a big step forward today in a case from Virginia, since Virginia is where the fundamental right to marry was born," said James Esseks, one of the ACLU lawyers who won the Windsor decision at the Supreme Court.In the 1967 decision the Supreme Court struck down the Commonwealth's ban on inter-racial marriages.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

What's Changed 10 Years After Obama's DNC Speech?


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- What a difference a decade makes: this past weekend marked the 10-year anniversary of President Obama's keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.One of the biggest visible changes is how Obama's hair has visibly greyed since his time as a state senator from Illinois in 2004.Back then, Obama was the 42-year-old Democratic state senator who was in the midst of his first U.S. Senate campaign when John Kerry asked him to speak at the convention.Obama won wide acclaim for his speech, which many cite as a major turning point in his political career.As for Kerry, the visible decade difference is less pointed then that of Obama. Though Kerry didn't end up winning his presidential bid in 2004 (losing to then-President George W. Bush), Obama has since made him the Secretary of State.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

Why a Frustrated Democrat Wants a Swimming Pool in Darrell Issa's Committee Room


Congressman Cardenas(WASHINGTON) -- A frustrated California congressman is calling for a swimming pool to be installed in the chambers of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — to facilitate a medieval litmus test.In a statement caked thick with sarcasm, Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., called on the committee's Republican chairman, Darrell Issa, to "install an above-ground pool" to aid the GOP chairman's investigations into a wide range of controversies."We are picking winners and losers, when it is clearly obvious that witches can only be found by dunking them in water," Cardenas wrote. "If they float they're a witch. If they don't, installing a pool will allow us to retrieve the non-witch before he or she drowns."The committee voted Friday to reject White House assertions of "absolute immunity" of David Simas, a senior adviser to President Obama and the director of the new White House Office of Political Strategy, who has refused to testify voluntarily or under subpoena at the committee."Like the Chairman, I am interested in effective government oversight and reform," Cardenas continued. "This pool will allow that to take place, wasting far fewer taxpayer dollars in the process."But Cardenas' proposal — however tongue-in-cheek it is — would be duplicative. Lawmakers already enjoy access to a swimming pool in the lawmakers-only gym in the Rayburn House Office Building, where the committee room is located.Asked to comment on the pool proposal, multiple aides to Issa refused to directly address Cardenas' idea.Cardenas joked that the committee's prospective pool could be named the "Senator Joseph R. McCarthy Memorial Truth Pond," and proposed installing a plaque quoting former head counsel for the U.S. Army, Joseph N. Welch, who asked McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"Concluding his statement, Cardenas pledged to make the pool available "for staff and member recreation" when the committee is not holding hearings in order "to avoid excessive government waste."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 Failure to Reform Immigration Affects a Young Girl


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Outside the hallways of the Capitol, the immigration reform debate isn't political. It's personal.When Washington, D.C. resident Cindy Monge saw the images of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border it hit home. Eight years ago she was one of them.Monge left Guatemala in 2006 to reunite with a father she had never met and a mother who had spent six years traveling back and forth on a tourist visa."I only had one option, which was to cross the border," she says. "I wanted to be with my parents."Alone at age 11, she traveled from bus to bus, contact to contact as she made the harrowing journey from Guatemala to the Mexico-U.S. border. For eight days she lived off peppermint candies and water, hiding in luggage compartments to evade Mexican authorities.At the U.S. gates, clutching a false birth certificate provided by smugglers, her plan derailed."They took me to the back, they did my fingerprints, they found out everything," Monge says, recalling her journey in an interview with ABC News. "I felt like it was the end for me."She would spend the next month in a juvenile detention center without an immigration hearing, praying that her undocumented father would risk his own security to claim her."I was alone in my thoughts and in my mind about what was going to happen next," she says. "What was going to happen with my parents? Would they even know about me? Would they find out what was going on?"Monge, who is now 19, shares a story with the 57,000 minors who have flooded through the southern border in the past nine months, a 106% increase since last year. While there is bipartisan agreement an immediate fix is necessary, Congress divides on how to address the crisis and whether to implement comprehensive immigration reform. With the president's $3.7 billion supplemental package in limbo, and the August recess fast approaching, immigrant communities in the United States grow restless over inaction.A month after she was taken into custody, Monge's father came to claim her from the San Diego detention center. He brought her to Maryland, where he worked as a gardener, and told her to never speak of her status to anyone, to "never come out of the shadows.""This is a secret and you're taking it to the tomb," she recalls him saying. "To everybody you are a resident or a U.S. citizen."The flow of unaccompanied children has been a trickle that just recently became a wave. Monge left Guatemala eight years ago for the same reasons children are leaving today – to flee violence and poverty and to reunite with her family.Immigration expert Marie Price calls it a calculated risk. "The threat is immediate" if individuals stay in these countries, says Price, former director of Latin American studies at George Washington University. "People do get killed, whereas you have a shot of running the gauntlet and getting through Mexico to the United States."While concentrated in the U.S., unaccompanied minors also seek asylum in countries like Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize, which have documented a 435% increase in asylum application in recent years, according to a U.N. report.Monge quickly learned English, attended public school in Maryland and "understood that I needed to accustom to this country and I needed to Americanize as fast as possible."When she was 15, she received legal status under Homeland Security's deferred action for childhood arrival plan (DACA). Since 2012, more than 600,000 children have received legal status under the controversial statute.Congress' inability to agree on legislation has consequences for tens of thousands of families, and poignant consequences for Monge. Her parents grew tired of waiting for reform and decided to leave the country. They were tired, she says, of living in constant fear of arrest and deportation."I'm going to be left alone again," she says through tears. For the second time in her short life, she says, she feels abandoned, trapped on the wrong side of a border that's divided her family.Monge recently graduated from high school and plans to attend community college in the fall. But even once in the U.S., her journey has not been easy."Some days we didn't have food in our house. We had nothing," she says. She works two jobs back to back. "I'm always trying to save money. Everything I wear, everything I have was given to me."But despite the journey, the detention center and the life in the shadows, she doesn't hesitate to say it was all worth it."I was in such a small town and now this country is like a world," she says, dreaming of one day working at the United Nations. "It opens your eyes. It opens your mind."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

California Will Have Four Governors in One Week


iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- You may have heard of the recent proposal to split the state of California into six separate states, but perhaps more interestingly, the top political seat in the Golden State will be held by four different people -- albeit only temporarily -- at different times this week.California will be under the leadership of four different governors at different times, as a number of state leaders will take turns traveling out of state.Gov. Jerry Brown left the state on a trade mission to Mexico on Sunday, leaving Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in command.Newsom, however, is set to leave the state on Tuesday, according to the Sacramento Bee, pushing California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to the top of the political heap.But Steinberg's control will only last one day until he, too, leaves California.On Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will take command until Brown returns from his trip late in the day, says the Sacramento Bee.Follow @ABCNewsRadio  Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Congress Reaches Deal on VA Reform Bill


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After weeks of negotiations, the chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees announced a deal Monday that provides at least $15 billion to help address the healthcare issues at the embattled Department of Veterans Administration.“Funding for veterans’ needs must be considered a cost of war and appropriated as emergency spending. Planes and tanks and guns are a cost of war, so is taking care of the men and women who use those weapons and who fight our battles,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said. “We have a VA that is in crisis today. This agreement will go a long way to helping resolve the crisis that exists out there today.  Helping to get veterans off waiting lists is extremely important and this bill does that,” Rep. Jeff Sanders, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said.The deal provides for $10 billion, which is considered “mandatory emergency money,” to contract care outside of the VA system. An additional $5 billion, which is all offset within the VA, is allotted to hiring new doctors, nurses and clinicians within the VA system. The bill also allows veterans living more than 40 miles away from a VA facility to obtain care outside the VA network.Some Republicans might object to the measure because it does not include as many offsets to pay for the funding, but Miller remained optimistic that he will be able to convince enough House Republicans to back the measure.“I come from a sales background before I came to Congress, and I think I can do an adequate job,” Miller said. “As we go through the process, there will be an educational process that will have to take place. Obviously some of our members will need a little more educating than others.” The chairmen hope to have the bill passed by the end of the week.  The conference committee will still need to approve the bill before it heads to the House and Senate for a full vote. “It is absolutely imperative that we get this bill done, and we get it done now before the August break,” Sanders said.Passing the VA reform bill is part of a long to-do list that Congress has to complete before it heads into a five week recess, along with providing funding for highway projects and President Obama’s emergency spending request to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors streaming across the U.S. Texas border. “The United States Congress today in my view is a dysfunctional institution,” Sanders said. “There are major issue after major issue where virtually nothing is happening when important legislation needs to be happening.”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

White House: EU to Impose New Sanctions on Russia


Sean Gallup/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House on Monday said it expects the European Union to impose new sanctions against critical sectors of the Russian economy this week.“We expect the European Union to take significant additional steps this week,” Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told reporters at the daily White House briefing, “including in key sectors of the Russian economy.”Blinken said actions could be taken in the financial, arms or energy sectors. European leaders are also looking to “broaden the criteria by which they can sanction people or entities, and I think one of the things they’re looking at is to bring in some of the cronies of President Putin,” Blinken added.The U.S. is preparing to take additional steps as well.  “In turn and in full coordination with Europe, the United States will implement additional measures itself,” Blinken said, reiterating “our purpose here again is not to punish Russia but to make clear that it must cease its support for the separatists and stop destabilizing Ukraine.”The White House insists that the sanctions already imposed by the US and Europeans are having a “dramatic impact on the Russian economy.”President Obama discussed these next steps for dealing with the crisis in Ukraine on a teleconference earlier Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.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

Sarah Palin Announces Subscription-Based Video Channel


Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin has announced she's launching a subscription-based online video channel. In a video posted to her YouTube channel, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate called the project “a news channel that really is a lot more than news.” It will cover stories about her family, behind-the-scenes looks at events and “the issues that the mainstream media won’t talk about,” Palin said.Palin expressed hope that the channel would be a “community” where viewers could share their concerns directly with her.The subscription rate is $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year.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

One Congressman's Quest to Protect Jetliners from Missiles


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Steve Israel wants all new U.S. commercial airliners to include some kind of missile defense systems to protect against a terror attack. The New York Democrat has renewed a push for the legislation after a missile allegedly blew Malaysia Airlines flight 17 out of the sky over the Ukraine and a Hamas rocket landed near Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. “Terrorists are copycats, and I’m concerned that [when] they see these tactics, they’re going to try and employ them,” Israel told ABC News. “We know that there are thousands of shoulder-fired missiles in the hands of terrorists around the world. They’re going to use these things and we are still leaving our public undefended.” So Israel is on a mission to put missile defense technology on U.S. commercial airplanes. The congressman says he plans to introduce a bill expanding missile protection for passenger planes, likely one that would require all newly built commercial aircraft include defensive technology. He and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, have also asked the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, and the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct an interagency study on the issue. Israel made a similar proposal after a 2002 missile attack on an Israeli charter plane flying over Mombasa, Kenya. That bill would have required the Defense Department to pay for missile defense technology on all existing U.S. commercial passenger planes, but the multi-billion dollar price tag concerned many lawmakers and the bill was never enacted. What worries Israel are that shoulder-fired weapons known as MANPADS are portable and easily concealed. And the more primitive versions, though not particularly accurate, are simple to operate and widely available on the black market. A MANPAD could take out a civilian plane during takeoff or landing. According to Israel, even if the missile missed, a single attempt could “grind U.S. aviation to a halt,” causing a billion dollar-plus hit to the economy. Israel's El Al airline is reported to have anti-missile systems. The FAA says it’s not considering requiring domestic carriers to install missile defense systems on planes. “If you’re flying on an El Al aircraft, you’re defended, Air Force One is defended, many military aircraft, defended. But no commercial plane in the United States fleet is defended. And that’s just wrong,” he said. Using the defense systems would likely involve sudden in-flight maneuvers that commercial aircraft aren’t designed to handle, which could endanger passengers. And commercial pilots aren’t necessarily trained on the equipment. Airlines have also balked at the cost. Israel calls the objections “irresponsible.” “We have a tendency in this country when it comes to homeland security to witness a horrific attack and then the next day, say, ‘why didn’t we?’” he said. “I think it’s irresponsible for the FAA simply to say, ‘well, we’re not going to even look at this.” He also dismisses the cost argument. “The pushback that I’ve received from the airline industry is that the cost…is about $1 million per plane. That is true. The cost of an inflight entertainment system is $1 million per plane,” he points out. “What is safer: being able to watch television at 30,000 feet or knowing that when you take off and land, you’re protected?” Israel says. Some experts suggest that patrolling airport perimeters could help thwart potential attackers, who are most likely to target planes during takeoff and landing. But that, too, can be expensive, as effective policing would require monitoring perimeters hundreds of miles deep. (The U.S. can’t regulate patrols at foreign airports.) “You can’t necessarily fortify the airports, but you can fortify the plane,” Israel said, adding that learning to operate the defense systems is “not that difficult.” “A very important defense against terrorists is deterrents...If [terrorists] knew that these planes had technologies to protect against a shoulder fired missile, they may be less likely to even try that,” the congressman said. “We should use all the tools in our toolbox -- deterrents, actual protection, defense -- in order to dissuade, deter, and stop them from engaging in this kind of an attack.”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

Breakthrough Announced in Bill to Aid Vets


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A bill to assist the nation's veterans that looked all but dead last week was reportedly agreed upon Sunday by the chairs of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs committee.With Congress set to recess for five weeks after Aug. 1, it was imperative that lawmakers arrive at an agreement to assist tens of thousands of war veterans still waiting medical care at VA clinics across the U.S.The legislation, expected to be announced Monday by Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Florida Republican Congressman Jeff Miller, presents more options for vets to seek medical attention, especially when they live far from VA facilities.Among the choices vets would have under the bill is access to private health care providers when they live 40 or more miles from a VA hospital.In addition, the bill calls for building more centers to care for veterans who critics say have waited an unbearably long time to see doctors because of alleged negligence and possible criminal wrongdoing to cover wait times.What almost undid the agreement were differences on how much will be spent and how everything will be funded. More details should be available later on Monday.Although certainly a breakthrough, the plan still needs the approval of negotiators from both chambers as well as a full vote by the House and Senate.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

Threat from Syria Will Last a Decade, Top Lawmaker Warns


US Congress(NEW YORK) -- The growing chaos in Iraq and Syria, where thousands of Western recruits have joined terrorist groups to train and fight, is cultivating a global threat that the United States is "going to be dealing with for the next decade," the head of the House Homeland Security Committee warned Saturday."As that threat grows overseas, so too does that threat to the homeland," Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told a group of counterterrorism officials and reporters attending the Aspen Institute's annual national security forum.McCaul expressed particular concern over Syria, where "the biggest safe-haven in the world" is fostering a union between expert bomb-makers from Yemen and associates of the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, who are jointly working to develop a new generation of undetectable explosives.Nearly a month ago, U.S. officials, led by the Transportation Security Administration, boosted security measures at airports overseas amid deepening concerns that Syria-based terrorists could be looking to down a U.S.- or Europe-bound plane, with help from one of the thousands of foreign fighters in the region carrying U.S. and European passports."It's the biggest threat to the homeland," McCaul said, noting that many of the foreign fighters in Syria, including more than 100 Americans, have "clean documents, legal travel documents" and "can blend in.""[Now] you have this combination of technology and manpower coming together," McCaul said.In a recent interview with ABC News' Pierre Thomas, Attorney General Eric Holder called it "a deadly combination" that is "more frightening than anything I think I've seen as attorney general."Earlier this year, U.S. officials learned that a particularly extreme "subset" of the Al Nusrah Front and other terrorist groups in Syria was teaming up with elements of the Yemen-based group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to produce "creative" new designs for bombs that could be smuggled onto airplanes, as one source put it.Asked by ABC News why U.S. officials didn't boost security measures at airports sooner -- when some of that intelligence was first detected -- McCaul indicated that at first the government only saw "the link," not more specific information about what the joint effort was producing."The threat became more credible and specific over time," he said.Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula built such innovative devices as the "underwear bomb" that ultimately failed to detonate in a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, and the group is "still very intent on blowing up airplanes," as McCaul described it.McCaul praised TSA administrator John Pistole, who was in the audience, for "guarding our airports overseas" and doing "exactly the right thing in protecting American lives."It's unclear exactly which airports overseas are implementing the expanded security measures, which include requiring U.S.-bound passengers to show that cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices can power-up if they want to carry them onboard."TSA overseas is stopping these foreign terrorists from getting into the United States," McCaul added. "They do a great job of keeping them out."But a number of Americans who went to Syria to fight have made it back into the United States in recent years. Some have been arrested and prosecuted for providing support to a terrorist group, while the FBI tries to "maintain coverage" on those in the United States not currently behind bars, the outgoing head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matt Olsen, said at the Aspen Institute's forum on Friday.FBI Director James Comey recently said the government is spending "a tremendous amount of time and effort trying to identify" anyone who's gone to Syria, but "the challenge" is how to not miss anyone.Over four days at the forum in Aspen, current and former U.S. officials warned of a potential homeland threat from the Islamic State, a brutal terrorist group distanced from al Qaeda that is now wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria. But many officials suggested the group is currently focused on efforts in the region with only "aspirational" hopes to ultimately attack the West.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

Illinois Lawmaker Calls on Feds To Allow Undocumented Immigrants Into Military


United States Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Illinois Rep. Bill Foster is introducing a resolution urging the Secretary of Defense to allow undocumented immigrants to serve in the U.S. military. Under the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors legislation, or DREAM Act, illegal immigrants would receive conditional permanent residency. Foster said he asked the Department of Defense last year to let DREAMers serve, but there hasn't been any effective action. "Despite the fact that they have been designated as second-class citizens left in a state of limbo, with no clear path to citizenship, many of these young men and women would be first in line for the opportunity to serve our country in the military," the Democratic lawmaker said Friday. "... It is morally reprehensible to deny these patriotic young men and women the opportunity to serve the country that they love."Foster also called on the government to resolve the much-debated immigration issue. "They are turned away for one reason and one reason alone:  because of our broken immigration system," he added.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

Report: More Undocumented Kids, Especially Girls, Crossing the Border


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of unaccompanied girls fleeing Central America and caught at the Southwest border has increased 77% since last year, and far more rapidly than the number of boys, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.The analysis, which looks at data provided by the Department of Homeland Security via a Freedom of Information Act, shows that while the number of girls under 18 detained at the U.S.-Mexico border has jumped significantly, the number of boys went up only 8 percent in the same period.While boys have historically made up the majority of those apprehended at the border, the stark rise in girls represents a “change in who is coming across the border,” Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center told ABC News.In fiscal year 2013, teenagers, particularly teenage boys, made up the bulk of those crossing the border,” Lopez said. “And while they still do make up the bulk of those crossing the border, we’ve seen a spike in the number of children and the number of girls and that’s different from 2013. … The growth in unaccompanied kids this year has been driven in large part by more children and more girls crossing the border illegally. That is a change from last year.”This data is a follow-up on Pew’s report earlier this week showing that pre-teens account for the sharpest spike in unaccompanied child migrants.When looking at the gender breakdown for those under 12, Pew found a 140% increase in girls apprehended and 100% increase among boys.But probably most shocking in their analysis is the difference between boy and girl unaccompanied teenagers apprehended.Teenage girls saw an increase of 62% this year, but teenage boys have seen almost no change — only 2%.“Teenage boys have been a big point of this unaccompanied minors story, but many of those teenage boys 15,16,17 years of age, to the higher end — these are young people who in many respects may be of working age,” Lopez said. “More interesting question is why have we seen the surge or spike in children and teenage girls.”Lopez said that spike is being driven largely by those fleeing violence in Honduras and El Salvador, and according to the Department of Homeland Security, poverty in Guatemala.Honduras had the highest 2012 murder rate in the world with 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people, and El Salvador had 41.2, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.Honduras is first and El Salvador is second when looking at all unaccompanied girls apprehended this year by country, according to Pew’s analysis.President Obama is meeting Friday with the leaders of the three countries — Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — at the White House to discuss the flow of children. 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 Central American Presidents on Border Crisis


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Meeting at the White House on Friday, President Obama told Central American presidents that they have a “shared responsibility” to do everything they can to stem the flow of migrant children flooding across the border. Obama warned that children without proper claims to stay in the U.S. will likely be sent back to their home countries.“I say that not because we lack compassion, but because, in addition to being a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws,” Obama told reporters as he sat alongside President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador.“And if you have a disorderly and dangerous process of migration, that not only puts the children themselves at risk, but it also calls to question the legal immigration process of those who are properly applying and trying to enter into our country,” he added.Obama also suggested the U.S. could create a refugee program in Central America, explaining  “there may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for.”“If that were the case, it would be better for them to be able to apply in country rather than take a very dangerous journey all the way up to Texas to make those same claims,” he said, adding that such a program “would not necessarily accommodate a large number of additional migrants.”Obama thanked his counterparts for their efforts to discourage parents from sending their children on this dangerous journey and for working with the U.S. on repatriating the children and families in an orderly way.“Initial reports show that our joint efforts appear to be paying off, and the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border this month appears to have dropped by half since June,” he said.As lawmakers prepare to leave town, Obama urged Republicans to act on his request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to tackle the crisis at the border.“It is my hope that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will not leave town for the month of August for their vacations without doing something to help solve this problem,” 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

White House Doesn't Discount Possibility of Impeachment


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Don't dismiss the possibility of the House of Representatives bringing articles of impeachment against President Obama, senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Friday."I think a lot of people in this town laugh that off," Pfeiffer said at a breakfast with reporters in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "I would not discount that possibility. I think that [House] Speaker [John] Boehner, by going down this path of this lawsuit, has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future."He went on to say that the executive actions being considered by the White House on immigration would probably “up the likelihood” of impeachment, making the point that lawmakers such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have already said that the president is violating the law with his unilateral moves on immigration.Pfeiffer noted that the House is set to file a formal lawsuit next week against the president over his executive actions. While the idea of impeachment is only being discussed by the likes of Sarah Palin -- and very few elected lawmakers -- that could change.He went on to say that the White House views the lawsuit as “validation” of its “year of action” strategy, saying of executive actions: “If they were small-ball, the Republicans would not be suing over them.”Asked whether impeachment would be good for the president, Pfeiffer said: “No, I don’t think so.”Boehner, who has publicly ruled out impeachment, responded in a statement through his spokesman."We have a humanitarian crisis at our border, and the White House is making matters worse with inattention and mixed signals,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement. “It is telling, and sad, that a senior White House official is focused on political games, rather than helping these kids and securing the border."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

Rand Paul Takes on Cocaine Sentencing Laws


Tom Pennington/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) -- Sen. Rand Paul wants to level the playing field when it comes to criminal sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine offenses.  In a speech to the Urban League in Cincinnati Friday, Paul announced new legislation that would eliminate the disparity in sentencing for offenses involving crack and powder cocaine. Current law carries much harsher penalties for the possession of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, first time offenders possessing 28 grams of crack cocaine would receive a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.  People with powder cocaine, on the other hand, would have to possess 500 grams to receive that same sentence.Paul officially introduced the legislation, titled the RESET Act (short for “Reclassification to Ensure Smarter and Equal Treatment Act”), on Thursday afternoon.  In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which narrowed the sentencing disparity for crack vs. powder cocaine offenses from 100:1 to 18:1. Paul’s bill would go much further, completely eliminating the disparity between the two.The Kentucky Republican, who is not shy about interest in a 2016 presidential run, has made criminal justice reform a cornerstone of his recent legislative pushes.Earlier this month, Paul teamed up with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to unveil bipartisan legislation to reform the criminal justice system -- from offering adults ways to seal their non-violent criminal records to permitting the sealing and expungement of juvenile records for kids who commit non-violent crimes.In recent months, Paul has argued for broadening the Republican Party and has made a concerted effort to reach out to urban communities and young people.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

Josh Earnest's Guide to Softening 'Hard-Bitten' Reporters


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Josh Earnest stepped up to the podium as the new White House press secretary just weeks ago, but already he’s figured out a few ways to butter up “hard-bitten” White House reporters.Principle among his methods, the father-to-be revealed to ABC News, is to discuss parenthood.“It’s something that so many people can relate to and hearing the experience of even some hard-bitten White House reporters…talking to them about the birth of their first child, they routinely describe it as the greatest day of their life,” said Earnest, whose wife is due later this summer.“I think, like all parents who are about to have their first child, we are feeling a lot of trepidation about this experience that we're preparing for, but also incredibly excited,” he said.The trepidation of first-time parenthood aside, Earnest admits he’s still getting settled into his new job as press secretary -- a role he assumed following Jay Carney’s departure last month.But playing the role of mediator between the White House and the press corps is nothing new to Earnest. He has worked for President Obama since the Iowa caucus in 2007 and went on to assume a principal role in the White House press office following the president’s election in 2008.“Having [had] that office right through that door,” Earnest said while gesturing toward his old office that sits directly behind the White House press briefing room. “I often described myself as the option of first resort for a lot of reporters.”Over his six and a half years working in the White House, the Missouri native has developed a reputation among the press corps as the “Midwestern nice guy.” And now that he’s fielding reporters’ tough questions in the daily press briefings -- exchanges which can sometimes be combative -- Earnest said he hopes he’ll continue to be thought of as the nice guy.“I would like it to be,” Earnest said. “I like reporters. Reporters that are working here at the White House have really difficult jobs…One of the things that's old-fashioned about working at the White House is that even in the age of email and Twitter and even telephones, a lot of the interactions that I have with reporters on a daily basis are in person, are face-to-face.”Though he now has the challenging task of going head-to-head with reporters on a daily basis, there are some definite perks to the new job. For one, Earnest has an unusual level of access to Obama.In addition to having a seat at the table for the president’s meetings with senior advisers, Obama has given Earnest rights to come by the Oval Office whenever he needs to -- no appointment necessary.“The president mentioned to me when he offered me this job…that if I was ever in a circumstance where I needed to speak with him about something, either in advance of a briefing or related to something else that we were handling, that I should come stand outside the Oval Office, and I could walk in and talk to him as necessary,” he said.It’s a perk that Earnest said he’s only taken advantage of once so far, following some comments the president made alluding to additional financial market regulations.“Knowing of the market sensitivity of that answer, and knowing that it was only the president himself who knew exactly what he was alluding to, I wanted to make sure that he was comfortable with the answer to that I was prepared to give,” Earnest 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