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The White House(WASHINGTON) — One day after House Republicans voted to sue him for allegedly exceeding his executive authority, President Obama signed yet another executive order, saying the suit is “not going to stop me from doing what I think needs to be done in order to help families across the country.”

“Any time Congress wants to do work with me to help working families, I’m right there. The door is always open. More than that, I’ll go to them; I’ll wash their car, walk their dog,” the president joked at a White House ceremony. “I’m ready to work with them any time that they want to pursue policies that help working families. But where they’re doing so little or nothing at all to help working families, then we’ve got to find ways, as an administration, to take action that’s going to help.”

“I said to [House] Speaker [John] Boehner, tell your caucus the best way to avoid me acting on my own is work with me to actually do something. Then you don’t have to worry about it. We’re not going to stop, and if they’re not going to lift a finger to help working Americans then I’m going to work twice as hard to help working Americans,” Obama said.

The president on Thursday signed an order, titled “Fair Pay and Safe Workplace,” requiring prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations.

With lawmakers leaving behind a lengthy legislative to-do list as they head out of town, the president quipped that “the big event last night — it wasn’t the vote on the minimum wage. It wasn’t a vote on immigration reform, strengthening the borders. It wasn’t a vote on family leave. What did they have a vote on? They got together in the House of Representatives, the Republicans, and voted to sue me for taking the actions that we are doing to help families.”

“One of the main objections that’s the basis of this suit is us making a temporary modification to the health care law that they said needed to be modified,” Obama explained. “So they criticized a provision; we modify it to make it easier for business to transition; and that’s the basis for their suit. Now, you could say that, all right, this is a harmless political stunt — except it wastes America’s time. You guys are all paying for it as taxpayers. It’s not very productive.”

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As Congress works on a long-term plan to reform the Veterans Administration, first lady Michelle Obama used her platform to speak out on ending veterans’ homelessness.

Speaking to an estimated 1,600 federal and local officials as well as homeless advocates, the first lady said one possible way to end homelessness nationwide is to start with our homeless veterans.

Mrs. Obama called the more than 58,000 homeless American veterans a “stain on the soul of this nation.”

“As Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform is sleeping on the ground should horrify us,” she said.

“That moral and patriotic duty is only part of the reason why ending veteran homelessness is so critical. As we all know, ending homelessness for our veterans can also be a crucial first step, a proof point to show that we can end homelessness for everyone in this country,” she continued.

The first lady called the work of homeless advocates “critically important.”

“Day after day, as you fight for more resources, you encounter too many folks who don’t take you seriously, because they don’t believe that we will ever truly be able to solve this problem…Yet when so many others accept homelessness as a fact of life, you refuse to give up,” she said. “I just want to say thank you.”

Mrs. Obama has made ending veterans’ homelessness a priority during her tenure as first lady, calling it a “moral outrage” at a White House event last month launching the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

Since June, 182 local leaders have taken the challenge to end veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015.

“We are seeing that with enough resources and the right strategies — strategies like housing first, rapid rehousing — we can make huge amounts of progress in a very short period of time,” the first lady said.

In an op-ed published Wednesday, Mrs. Obama pointed to success in Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

“Any number of veterans left out in the cold is too many, but those numbers show us that even in some of our largest metropolitan areas, ending veteran homelessness is eminently achievable,” she wrote.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Eric Cantor took to the House floor for the last time as majority leader Thursday, calling his service on Capitol Hill “a privilege of a lifetime.”

“Walking into this building and walking onto this floor is something that excited me every day since I was first elected to Congress,” he said. “As it should. Not one of us should ever take for granted the awesome honor and responsibility we have to serve our fellow Americans.”

Cantor has represented Virginia’s 7th District for 14 years, and his defeat in June by tea party-backed professor Dave Brat stunned Washington.

As he steps down as majority leader, there will be a few changes, notably his Twitter handle, @GOPLeader, and first-class office at the Capitol.

On Tuesday, the House Republicans uploaded a two-minute Cantor tribute video to honor his time as majority leader. But Thursday’s address marked a very public goodbye.

During the 10-minute speech, Cantor continually expressed pride and gratitude that he was able to take part in leading the country, thanking his colleagues, staff, family and Capitol Police.

Cantor recalled a story about his grandparents who had fled religious persecution in Europe, saying his own rise to majority leader served as an example of the American Dream but that the country has seen that “dream erode” in recent years.

He also expressed concern for the country’s education system and employment opportunities, as well as the state of American strength abroad.

“Instability and terror seem to be coming from every corner of the globe. The Middle East is in chaos, Iran is marching towards a nuclear weapon, Russia has reverted to a Cold War footing and invaded Ukraine,” Cantor said. “America does lead in so many areas, including innovation, scientific discovery, and medicine. But we must also make leadership abroad a priority. I shudder to think what the world looks like in five years for us and our allies if we don’t steel our resolve and stand tall with those who stand with us.”

It wasn’t all dismal news. Cantor said one of his proudest moments in office was when President Obama signed the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which aimed to find cures and treatments for pediatric diseases.

Cantor ended by thanking three Republicans specifically. He thanked House Speaker John Boehner for his “firm leadership” while “not being afraid to show us all your kind heart and your soft spot from time to time,” to which the chamber erupted in bipartisan laughter.

He also named Budget Chairman Paul Ryan for his commitment to “conservative solutions” and incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Both men were referred to as “dear friends.”

Before waving and blowing kisses to a bipartisan standing ovation, Cantor closed his speech in the most appropriate way he knew how, saying, “And with that, I yield back.”

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The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) — CIA Director John Brennan has apologized to the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee after the CIA’s Inspector General determined that agency officials inappropriately searched the stand-alone computer network used by committee staffers in preparing their report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

Earlier this year, Brennan denied the CIA had illegally monitored the committee’s computers, calling the suggestions as “just beyond the scope of reason.”

To follow up on the Inspector General’s determination, Brennan has ordered the formation of an accountability board to review the incident and make recommendations that could potentially lead to disciplinary action.

The development is the latest twist in a long-running dispute between the CIA and the committee about classified information used to compile the 6,000 page report. The classified report found that the CIA overstated the success of the program and may have misled members of Congress. A declassified summary of the report could be released in a few weeks.

In order for committee staffers to have access to classified materials about the program an agreement was reached in 2009 that allowed them access to documents at a CIA facility in northern Virginia. A standalone computer network, called RDINet, was developed so the staffers could access classified computer files.

In January, Brennan informed committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein and vice-chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss that the CIA had recently performed a “search” of that network and determined that committee staffers had been given access to files that should not have been on the network. In turn, Feinstein said she believed that the CIA could only have determined that by violating the agreement that the CIA would not have access to the committee’s computer network.

At the time, Brennan referred the dispute to the CIA’s Inspector General.

In a statement released Thursday, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said the Inspector General’s investigation had judged “that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to the RDINet.”

“The Director subsequently informed the SSCI Chairman and Vice Chairman of the findings and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG report,” said Boyd.

The statement added that Brennan has ordered the establishment of an Accountability Board to be chaired by former senator Evan Bayh who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“This Board will review the OIG report, conduct interviews as needed, and provide the Director with recommendations that, depending on its findings, could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues,” said Boyd.

The dispute became public in March when Feinstein delivered a lengthy and blistering speech on the Senate floor where she expressed “grave concerns” that the CIA had conducted an unauthorized search of the network that violated the 2009 agreement. She also asked the CIA to apologize and recognize that the computer search was inappropriate.

Appearing at a Washington, D.C. think tank the same day as Feinstein’s speech, Brennan denied her accusations, labeling them “beyond the scope of reason” and that “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“I mean we wouldn’t do that,” Brennan told the Council on Foreign Relations. “I mean that’s just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.”

On Thursday, Feinstein called Brennan’s apology and his decision to refer the Inspector General report to an accountability board “positive first steps.”

Other Democratic members of the committee were more critical.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called for Brennan to make a “public apology” and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) expressed a loss of confidence in Brennan.

“I am concerned about the director’s apparent inability to find any flaws in the agency he leads,” Udall said in a statement. “Earlier this year he referred to the chairman’s and my publicly stated concerns about the CIA search as ‘spurious allegations that are wholly unsupported by facts’ and urged us to ‘refrain from outbursts.’ Brennan needs to account for these statements.”

Udall said he wants an independent counsel to look into the matter.

Earlier in July, the Justice Department said it had found insufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal probe of Feinstein’s and the CIA’s separate allegations.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BISHOPVILLE, S.C.) — A crashed drone carrying contraband, including marijuana, tobacco and cellphones, was found outside the razor wire fence at a maximum security prison in South Carolina.

One person has been arrested, however the search for a second suspect has been ongoing since prison officials found the downed aerial vehicle and contraband in the bushes outside Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville on April 21.

Brenton Lee Doyle, 28, has been charged with drug possession and attempting to furnish contraband to inmates. Court records did not list an attorney for Doyle.

Authorities are seeking a second man, who was seen on surveillance video at a convenience store prior to the incident buying some products that were found with the crashed drone.

Stephanie Givens, a spokeswoman for Lee Correctional Institution, said investigators believe the drone was either crashed by the person piloting it or that it malfunctioned as it approached the prison.

Givens would not discuss the type of drone, but said it was a model that was “capable of flying long distances.”

“As technology gets more advanced, we have to find more advanced ways to fight that,” she said.

It is believed to be the first time the high-tech approach has been taken to smuggle contraband into a South Carolina prison.

Four people were accused last year of trying to fly a drone carrying tobacco and cellphones into a Georgia state prison.

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Courtesy Danielle Templer(NEW YORK) — When 5-year-old Maddox Perales poses for a photo, he has to hold up his cheeks as he yells “cheese.” Maddox’s unusual smile is a result of a neurological disorder called Moebius syndrome.

Maddox was diagnosed as an infant with the disorder, which primarily affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves and can cause severe facial weakness or paralysis, according to the Moebius Syndrome Foundation.

The condition left him with facial muscles so weak he could not feed himself or even smile. He also could not blink or move his eyes laterally, meaning he had no peripheral vision.

In the five years since he was diagnosed, Maddox’s mother, Danielle Templer, has worked with speech and physical therapists to develop Maddox’s speech and eating ability. Even though he can now eat, read and talk, he is still is unable to smile.

“He’s so astute and I don’t want people to perceive him as not being smart,” said Templer. “I don’t want people first…to judge a book by a cover before they [know him.]”

Templer said preschool and pre-kindergarten classes have been hard for the 5-year-old because other kids don’t understand why he doesn’t smile. Even Templer had to figure out what Maddox’s laugh sounded like so she could understand when he was happy or sad.

“It makes a big, big difference,” said Templer of the ability to smile. “It’s instrumental. It’s a bond. It’s a lot of things, a smile. It does so much for you.”

While Maddox can still smile by manually holding up his cheeks, Templer is looking for a permanent solution. One possible answer is specialized surgery to treat facial paralysis.

Templer is hoping to take Maddox to be treated at the Facial Paralysis Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The program helps to treat children like Maddox by grafting nerves and other muscles from other parts of the body into the facial region through multiple surgeries to try and animate the facial muscles.

Templer said she’s raised more than $21,000 but estimates the surgery and following care will be approximately $100,000. She’s currently raising money in an online fundraiser.

For Templer, the surgery isn’t just about having Maddox smile. She hopes it will help with a speech impediment that can make him unintelligible to people outside of his family and make it easier for him to interact with new people.

“This is the card he was dealt. We’re going to play our ace high,” said Templer of her plan to fund Maddox’s surgery. “[For Moebius syndrome kids], we smile with our hearts. He’s a normal boy but, gosh, it’s so important to smile.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — International students and others looking to travel to the United States this fall are concerned about whether glitches in the State Department’s visa processing system will prevent them from getting their travel documents on time — and have taken to social media to vent.

The system in charge of processing and printing visas has been at least partially down since July 20, and a steady backlog of visa cases means frustrated travelers are looking for answers. For many, the first place they turn is Facebook and, perhaps to their surprise, the State Department is responding.

“I did my F-1 visa interview in Luxembourg on 21st July. However it’s been 10 days. We get continued contacts with the embassy and they said they cannot process anything right now, but isn’t the system partially working?” asked Allen Liu, who studies at UCLA, on the State Department’s Consular Affairs Bureau page Thursday morning.

Consular Affairs responded to Liu six hours later: “Hi Allen, it sounds like our colleagues in Luxembourg are aware of your case and doing what they can to assist you and others like you who are anxiously awaiting visas. Thank you for your continued patience.”

Another complainant, newlywed Laura Johnson, also fretted about her travel arrangements.

“As I will miss my honeymoon to Florida now due to this, what’s the best way to get my passport back so at least I can go somewhere else? At the rate the London embassy replies to emails most of the honeymoon time off will be over before I get a proper answer,” Johnson wrote.

“Hi Laura, we are truly sorry that you will not be able to enjoy the honeymoon you’ve planned. We are still issuing many visas, however, at a reduced rate,” Consular Affairs replied.

It’s unusual to see the federal government react so personally — and relatively quickly — to individual complaints. But in the interest of damage control, the State Department has to cast a wide net in this case to reduce confusion among people all over the world who might not have much experience dealing with government red tape.

“In addition to communicating through our websites, e-mail and letters, we are also reaching out to applicants via Facebook and other social media sites, such as Weibo [a Chinese microblogging site], to relay the latest information,” according to a Consular Affairs FAQ page on its website.

Plus, the State Department isn’t sure when this problem will be fully resolved. There have been “performance issues” since Consular Affairs performed upgrades on its Consolidated Consular Database, the hub for all visa and passport applications, on July 20, spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday.

“We anticipate it may take some time before we process all of the pending cases created by the performance issue,” she said.

The Consular Affairs bureau is working with Microsoft and Oracle, the makers of the database’s technology, to fix the problem, which it believes is related to outdated hardware and software, as opposed to something malicious like a virus.

Meanwhile, passports are still being processed in a timely fashion. But the glitches prevent embassies from physically printing visas for individuals looking to come to the United States.

For students seeking admission to the U.S. for the fall 2014 semester, which for many colleges starts in August, Consular Affairs is already recommending a Plan B: making arrangements with their school’s administrators for starting their studies after their program begins.

But that was little consolation for Liu, the UCLA student, who wrote back to Consular Affairs on its Facebook page.

“I have my summer course next Monday,” he wrote. “I desperately need the visa as soon as possible.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(RIO DE JANEIRO) — A remarkable video shows a group of indigenous people coming into contact with the outside world, possibly for the very first time.

The group of men are believed to be natives of Peru but they were filmed in northern Brazil on the banks of the Envira River, which runs near the Peruvian border. It’s not clear when the encounter took place, but the video was released on Thursday by the Brazilian indigenous authority FUNAI.

The tribal men are naked except for belts and loincloths and carrying different weapons at points in the eight-minute video.

A few of the tribal men are seen with markings on their faces and they all have styled their dark black hair in a similar bowl-cut fashion.

Some are holding bows-and-arrows or spears, and at one point one of the men blatantly steals a machete-type knife while another takes an ax from a settlement, despite shouts of protest by the villagers. Another member of their group grabs a blue material that looks like either a towel or a piece of clothing.

Brazilian authorities have not identified the group, but were able to determine that the dialect of the language that they’re speaking is a form of the Panoan linguistic group.

The people they are interacting with are believed to be part of the Ashaninka ethnic group who reside in the area where the video was shot.

One Ashaninkan man, seen shirtless with a pair of baggy athletic shorts, wades into the river to hand the tribe members some bananas.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BISHOPVILLE, S.C.) — A crashed drone carrying contraband, including marijuana, tobacco and cellphones, was found outside the razor wire fence at a maximum security prison in South Carolina.

One person has been arrested, however the search for a second suspect has been ongoing since prison officials found the downed aerial vehicle and contraband in the bushes outside Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville on April 21.

Brenton Lee Doyle, 28, has been charged with drug possession and attempting to furnish contraband to inmates. Court records did not list an attorney for Doyle.

Authorities are seeking a second man, who was seen on surveillance video at a convenience store prior to the incident buying some products that were found with the crashed drone.

Stephanie Givens, a spokeswoman for Lee Correctional Institution, said investigators believe the drone was either crashed by the person piloting it or that it malfunctioned as it approached the prison.

Givens would not discuss the type of drone, but said it was a model that was “capable of flying long distances.”

“As technology gets more advanced, we have to find more advanced ways to fight that,” she said.

It is believed to be the first time the high-tech approach has been taken to smuggle contraband into a South Carolina prison.

Four people were accused last year of trying to fly a drone carrying tobacco and cellphones into a Georgia state prison.

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US House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) — Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is leaving behind one of Washington’s most powerful titles this week as Congress goes on recess, meaning he will have to cope with the loss of many of the advantages that come with being the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Virginia Republican, who was defeated in his June primary by an economics professor and first-time candidate, will serve out his term in Congress, but he’ll have to do it without any of these perks:

1. The Entourage

Leading the Republican House caucus isn’t easy and Cantor relied on a large staff of dozens in his district office, Washington, D.C. office and leadership office to keep things running smoothly. But now he’s going to have to downsize. The incoming leadership team of Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana have already absorbed many of his responsibilities — and snapped up some of his soon-to-be out of work staffers, according to Politico.

2. Fancy Invites

Even before his successor was named, Cantor lost much of the influence he commanded before losing the support of his constituents. He’ll be in office until January, but as a back-bencher, he shouldn’t expect to lead any more congressional delegations to places like Davos, Switzerland, where he attended the World Economic Forum last January. (He was, however, spotted in the Hamptons after his defeat.)

3. Proximity to Power

Since his defeat, Cantor has been a no-show at press conferences and leadership meetings. He’s also missed a higher percentage of votes since losing his primary than in his previous 14 years of service, according to Roll Call. And another thing: He can kiss goodbye all those coveted photo-ops with House Speaker John Boehner. As Boehner’s No. 2, Cantor had been an ubiquitous presence by the speaker’s side for years, but will now recede into the background.

4. The Attention

Most members of Congress love being in the spotlight (as long as there’s no scandal involved), and few lawmakers were in as much demand as Cantor. That’s all over. However, Cantor’s defeat may actually be a blessing in disguise. He no longer has to brave the scores of reporters around the Capitol seeking comment on his conference’s actions.

5. Mmmmm…Steak

We don’t know for sure if Cantor has seen his last political campaign, but his ouster certainly put a damper on his influence in the party. He has done little stumping for other Republicans since losing his own race — making the thousand-dollar campaign-expensed steak dinners a thing of the past for now.

6. Office Space

If you wanted to find House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, you could often find him around the House majority leader’s suite on the second floor of the Capitol. Now, the best place to find Cantor will be on the third floor of the Cannon House Office Building, where the Richmond congressman will be serving out the rest of his term in political exile.

7. Bye Bye, @GOPLeader

Cantor passed the social media baton shortly after addressing the House as majority leader for the last time. If you want to tweet at Cantor, you can find him at @RepEricCantor — @GOPLeader now belongs to McCarthy.

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