Review Category : Poltics

Sen. Deb Fischer ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Foreign Threats to US Interests

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — In the wake of a string of international threats to U.S. interests, Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., discussed the importance of passing the National Defense Authorization Act in this week’s Republican address.

Fischer, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, said she is “deeply concerned by growing instability, particularly in the Middle East where violence continues to consumer Iraq and Syria.” In addition to the ongoing threat from ISIS, Fischer also highlights foreign concerns, including “Iran’s nuclear ambitions… [and] China’s aggressive territorial expansion.”

“President Reagan said it best,” Fischer says, “with his principle of: ‘Peace through strength.'”

She concluded by offering praise for the American military, crediting the opportunity for “another American century” to their courage and sacrifice.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

“Hello, I’m Senator Deb Fischer and I have the honor of representing the great state of Nebraska in the United States Senate.

“For generations, our military has answered the call to protect our freedom at home and our interests around the world.

“These service members are men and women of uncommon courage.

“From the shores of Normandy to the fields of Korea and beyond, America’s sons and daughters have never wavered in the defense of liberty – both as a fighting force and a force for good.

“Because of their sacrifice, the 20th century was ‘the American century.’

“But our work is far from done. Every generation faces evil.

“And every generation has been called upon to step forward and protect our way of life.

“Our nation faces many challenges and I believe the federal government has no higher priority than protecting the American people in an increasingly dangerous world.

“With this responsibility in mind, the Senate will soon consider its annual bill to authorize funding and set policy for our military, known as the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA.

“I’m honored to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I was proud to contribute to this bipartisan legislation, which was overwhelmingly approved by our Committee earlier this month.

“This bill takes a common-sense approach: it cuts spending from programs that have been delayed or failed to perform, and redirects that revenue to meet the critical needs of our warfighters.

“In all, this year’s NDAA finds $10 billion in savings, which it uses to increase the capability and training of our men and women in uniform.

“It also invests in the future of our national defense, setting aside $400 million for the development of new technologies that will ensure our troops maintain their superiority on the battlefield.

“We are also addressing issues like the growing bureaucracy at the Pentagon.

“Our military is getting smaller, but combat units shouldn’t bear these cuts alone.

“This bill targets real reductions for headquarter and management staff as well.

“It would also take steps for real reforms to our acquisition system – the way our military purchases weapons and equipment – to prevent wasteful spending.

“It’s no secret we live in a very dangerous world.

“As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, I am deeply concerned by growing instability, particularly in the Middle East where violence continues to consume Iraq and Syria.

“From Iran’s nuclear ambitions to China’s aggressive territorial expansion, Russia’s belligerence as a regional bully, and the growing threat of the Islamic State, we have no shortage of challenges.

“This underscores the importance of providing for our military.

“A strong and capable defense deters our adversaries.

“President Reagan said it best with his principle of: Peace through strength.

“It remains as true today as it was thirty-five years ago.

“But as we all know, sometimes this deterrence is not enough, and Americans are called to act.

“Providing the men and women of our military with the training and resources they need increases their ability to complete their assigned mission and safely return home.

“Unfortunately, too many of our service members pay the ultimate sacrifice.

“From natural disasters to war-torn nations, the United States has rapidly deployed to help those facing danger.

“This past month, one of our own Nebraskans gave his life while searching for victims of the massive earthquake in Nepal.

“Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz of Wilcox, Nebraska was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot, who flew the helicopter that disappeared during the disaster relief mission following the Nepal earthquake.

“By forging into danger to rescue strangers in a distant land, Capt. Lukasiewicz and his fellow Marines represented the ideals of our nation, personifying our mission as a force for good in the world.

“There are countless stories like this from Americans across our country.

“Brave men and women who serve our nation every day, all over the world.

“Our men and women in uniform inspire me.

“Because of their courage and sacrifice, I believe in a brighter future for our children and our grandchildren.

“There can be another American century.

“With the right leadership and the proper resources, the U.S. military will continue to lead the way.

“May God bless our troops, their families, and our great nation.

“Thank you for listening.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Obama Urges Passage of USA Freedom Act in Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama urged the Senate to pass the U.S.A Freedom Act to extend certain aspects of the Patriot Act’s surveillance programs beyond the June 1 deadline in his weekly address.

With the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program set to expire at midnight June 1, Obama used his address to call for the passage of a solution that has already passed the House. “A small group of senators is standing in the way,” Obama said, a dig, perhaps, towards Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who filibustered against the U.S.A Freedom Act earlier this week. “Unfortunately,” Obama added, “some folks are trying to use this debate to score political points.”

“Terrorists like al Qaeda and [ISIS] aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow,” Obama said. “We shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe…It would be irresponsible. It would be reckless, and we shouldn’t allow it to happen.”

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody. As President and Commander in Chief, my greatest responsibility is the safety of the American people. And in our fight against terrorists, we need to use every effective tool at our disposal—both to defend our security and to protect the freedoms and civil liberties enshrined in our Constitution.

But tomorrow—Sunday, at midnight—some important tools we use against terrorists will expire. That’s because Congress has not renewed them, and because legislation that would—the USA Freedom Act—is stuck in the Senate. I want to be very clear about what this means.

Today, when investigating terrorist networks, our national security professionals can seek a court order to obtain certain business records. Our law enforcement professionals can seek a roving wiretap to keep up with terrorists when they switch cell phones. We can seek a wiretap on so-called lone wolves—suspected terrorists who may not be directly tied to a terrorist group. These tools are not controversial. Since 9/11, they have been renewed numerous times. FBI Director James Comey says they are “essential” and that losing them would “severely” impact terrorism investigations. But if Congress doesn’t act by tomorrow at midnight, these tools go away as well.

The USA Freedom Act also accomplishes something I called for a year and a half ago: it ends the bulk metadata program—the bulk collection of phone records—as it currently exists and puts in place new reforms. The government will no longer hold these records; telephone providers will. The Act also includes other changes to our surveillance laws—including more transparency—to help build confidence among the American people that your privacy and civil liberties are being protected. But if Congress doesn’t act by midnight tomorrow, these reforms will be in jeopardy, too.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The USA Freedom Act reflects ideas from privacy advocates, our private sector partners and our national security experts. It already passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support—Republicans and Democrats. A majority of the Senate—Republicans and Democrats—have voted to move it forward.

So what’s the problem? A small group of senators is standing in the way. And, unfortunately, some folks are trying to use this debate to score political points. But this shouldn’t and can’t be about politics. This is a matter of national security. Terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow. And we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe. It would be irresponsible. It would be reckless. And we shouldn’t allow it to happen.

So today, I’m calling on Americans to join me in speaking with one voice to the Senate. Put the politics aside. Put our national security first. Pass the USA Freedom Act—now. And let’s protect the security and civil liberties of every American. Thanks very much.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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NSA’s Domestic Surveillance Program May Expire: What You Need to Know

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Certain provisions of the Patriot Act, including those the National Security Agency uses for the controversial bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, will expire when the clock strikes midnight on June 1 if Congress can’t reach an agreement about the future of the program.

Lawmakers are at odds over whether and how the controversial practice should continue, and with the expiration deadline approaching, the White House has warned of the national security impact shuttering the program will have, potentially cause law enforcement officials to lose important tools to help them track down and prosecute suspected terrorists unless legislation is passed.

The fate of the program will unfold on the Senate floor Sunday afternoon. Here’s what you need to know about the debate over the NSA and the Patriot Act.

WHAT EXACTLY IS EXPIRING?

Several provisions of the Patriot Act will expire at midnight on June 1st. The one you’ve probably heard about the most is Section 215, which provides the authority for the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. That’s the controversial program first exposed by NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. This allows the NSA to access telephone metadata — basically information about where, when and to whom calls were made, but not recordings of the calls themselves.

It also includes a provision that allows prosecutors to collect other information, like business records, on suspected terrorists by acquiring a court order. Section 215 is used in terrorism cases about 200 times a year, according to senior administration officials.

But there are two other, lesser-known programs that also face the June 1st expiration deadline. One allows law enforcement officials to use roving wiretaps to monitor individuals using different phones, a power that is exercised less than 100 times a year. The other is the so-called “Lone Wolf” provision which allows officials to monitor a suspected terrorist even if they can’t establish any ties to a known terrorist organization. While this power has never been used, senior administration officials say it could be valuable in the future in detecting people planning terror attacks as lone wolves.

WHAT IS CONGRESS FIGHTING ABOUT?

There are several camps involved in the fight over the Patriot Act. There are those – like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Richard Burr – who wanted to extend the program without any changes.

Then there are the supporters of the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 303-121, and has support from lawmakers like Sens. Patrick Leahy, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah. That measure would end the government’s collection of the metadata and instead have the telephone companies store the records. The NSA would have to obtain a warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence courts in order to query the information from the database.

Finally, there are those like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who want to end the collection of phone records completely and allow the provisions to run out. Paul even spoke on the Senate floor for ten and a half hours protesting the Patriot Act, and a super PAC supporting Paul, America’s Liberty, has released a web ad teeing up Paul’s upcoming stand against the NSA on Sunday.

WAIT, THERE’S A WRESTLING MATCH IN THE SENATE SUNDAY?

No – but the fate of the program NSA’s domestic surveillance program could be determined on Sunday.

Here’s where things stand: While the Republican controlled House passed the USA Freedom Act earlier this month, it faced opposition as soon as it arrived in the Senate, especially as the upper chamber’s top Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, pushed his colleagues for a blank extension of the surveillance program.

With Memorial Day recess looming, the Senate voted on the USA Freedom Act in the early morning hours last Saturday, but fell three votes short of clearing a key procedural hurdle. Shortly after some political theatrics on the Senate floor, the upper chamber voted to block a two month extension of the Patriot Act to give lawmakers time to hammer out a compromise.

The Senate then adjourned for the week and senators are slated to return at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, with only eight hours left until the program expires.

SO THE PROGRAM MAY END AT MIDNIGHT ON JUNE 1?

Actually, the process to end the program starts much earlier than midnight, according to senior administration officials The NSA will begin shutting down the surveillance system at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday if Congress has not passed legislation by then.

The NSA then has until 8:00 p.m. to cancel the shutdown. At that point, it is irreversible. Once the database is shut down, it would take an entire day to restart the system. No additional metadata could be collected while the system is down nor would law enforcement officials be able to search the database.

Lawmakers are in negotiations to find an agreement before the Senate returns on Sunday, but unless the Senate passes legislation by 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, the surveillance program is expected to go dark for at least a few days, which President Obama has warned lawmakers about.

“The House of Representatives did its work which strikes the appropriate balance,” Obama said this week. “The Senate did not act…I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done.”

“This needs to get done,” he added.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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NSA’s Domestic Surveillance Program May Expire: What You Need to Know

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Certain provisions of the Patriot Act, including those the National Security Agency uses for the controversial bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, will expire when the clock strikes midnight on June 1 if Congress can’t reach an agreement about the future of the program.

Lawmakers are at odds over whether and how the controversial practice should continue, and with the expiration deadline approaching, the White House has warned of the national security impact shuttering the program will have, potentially cause law enforcement officials to lose important tools to help them track down and prosecute suspected terrorists unless legislation is passed.

The fate of the program will unfold on the Senate floor Sunday afternoon. Here’s what you need to know about the debate over the NSA and the Patriot Act.

WHAT EXACTLY IS EXPIRING?

Several provisions of the Patriot Act will expire at midnight on June 1st. The one you’ve probably heard about the most is Section 215, which provides the authority for the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. That’s the controversial program first exposed by NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. This allows the NSA to access telephone metadata — basically information about where, when and to whom calls were made, but not recordings of the calls themselves.

It also includes a provision that allows prosecutors to collect other information, like business records, on suspected terrorists by acquiring a court order. Section 215 is used in terrorism cases about 200 times a year, according to senior administration officials.

But there are two other, lesser-known programs that also face the June 1st expiration deadline. One allows law enforcement officials to use roving wiretaps to monitor individuals using different phones, a power that is exercised less than 100 times a year. The other is the so-called “Lone Wolf” provision which allows officials to monitor a suspected terrorist even if they can’t establish any ties to a known terrorist organization. While this power has never been used, senior administration officials say it could be valuable in the future in detecting people planning terror attacks as lone wolves.

WHAT IS CONGRESS FIGHTING ABOUT?

There are several camps involved in the fight over the Patriot Act. There are those – like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Richard Burr – who wanted to extend the program without any changes.

Then there are the supporters of the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 303-121, and has support from lawmakers like Sens. Patrick Leahy, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah. That measure would end the government’s collection of the metadata and instead have the telephone companies store the records. The NSA would have to obtain a warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence courts in order to query the information from the database.

Finally, there are those like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who want to end the collection of phone records completely and allow the provisions to run out. Paul even spoke on the Senate floor for ten and a half hours protesting the Patriot Act, and a super PAC supporting Paul, America’s Liberty, has released a web ad teeing up Paul’s upcoming stand against the NSA on Sunday.

WAIT, THERE’S A WRESTLING MATCH IN THE SENATE SUNDAY?

No – but the fate of the program NSA’s domestic surveillance program could be determined on Sunday.

Here’s where things stand: While the Republican controlled House passed the USA Freedom Act earlier this month, it faced opposition as soon as it arrived in the Senate, especially as the upper chamber’s top Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, pushed his colleagues for a blank extension of the surveillance program.

With Memorial Day recess looming, the Senate voted on the USA Freedom Act in the early morning hours last Saturday, but fell three votes short of clearing a key procedural hurdle. Shortly after some political theatrics on the Senate floor, the upper chamber voted to block a two month extension of the Patriot Act to give lawmakers time to hammer out a compromise.

The Senate then adjourned for the week and senators are slated to return at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, with only eight hours left until the program expires.

SO THE PROGRAM MAY END AT MIDNIGHT ON JUNE 1?

Actually, the process to end the program starts much earlier than midnight, according to senior administration officials The NSA will begin shutting down the surveillance system at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday if Congress has not passed legislation by then.

The NSA then has until 8:00 p.m. to cancel the shutdown. At that point, it is irreversible. Once the database is shut down, it would take an entire day to restart the system. No additional metadata could be collected while the system is down nor would law enforcement officials be able to search the database.

Lawmakers are in negotiations to find an agreement before the Senate returns on Sunday, but unless the Senate passes legislation by 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, the surveillance program is expected to go dark for at least a few days, which President Obama has warned lawmakers about.

“The House of Representatives did its work which strikes the appropriate balance,” Obama said this week. “The Senate did not act…I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done.”

“This needs to get done,” he added.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Chris Christie Was for Common Core Before He Was Against It

Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have won points with conservatives when he announced Thursday he was pulling his state out of the federal Common Core education standards, but his concerns about the program don’t appear consistent with his two-term record on the program, according to an examination of his past statements and actions.

“It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it’s simply not working,” Christie, a likely Republican presidential candidate, said during a speech Thursday at Burlington County College in Pemberton, N.J.

But Christie praised the program for years after voluntarily adopting it in 2010. “We’re doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue. And this is one of those areas where I’ve agreed more with the president than not,” he told a Las Vegas school summit in August 2013.

During that speech, he derided members of Congress who were distancing themselves from Common Core, which was becoming increasingly unpopular with conservative activists, saying they were bowing to political pressure.

“Part of the problem in Congress right now, on both sides of the aisle, is that folks care more about their primaries than they care about anything else,” he said during the speech.

Christie did set up a nine-member commission of educators, state officials and administrators in July 2014, but its goal seemed geared towards evaluating student testing, not the Common Core curriculum itself.

“The Commission is charged with reviewing and providing appropriate recommendations about the effectiveness of the volume, frequency, and impact of student testing occurring throughout New Jersey school districts,” the announcement of the commission read in part.

Plus, the group’s interim recommendations, released in January 2015, only referred to Common Core in the context of the tests that assessed students’ grasp of the curriculum, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC). The commission warned that PARCC, which was phased in to New Jersey schools this year, was regarded by parents and teachers as “an example of over-testing.”

But Christie has defended the implementation of the PARCC test, even as it is explicitly linked to Common Core. “This will in no way affect our efforts to continue effective testing and measurements of our students through the PARCC test,” he said during Thursday’s speech.

While less infamous on the national stage than Common Core, PARCC remains unpopular in New Jersey. A February Monmouth University poll, the most recent on the topic, found PARCC’s disapproval rating among Garden State residents on par with Common Core’s.

Christie said his education commissioner, David Hespe, would be evaluating PARCC, but that getting rid of it entirely might jeopardize federal funding. “I’m not going to permit New Jersey to risk losing vital federal education funds because some would prefer to let the perfect get in the way of the good,” he said.

But that assertion was incongruous with a concern Christie had previously raised about Common Core: that the government was tying funds to the adoption of a specific federal education program.

“I have grave concerns about the way [Common Core] is being done, and especially the way the Obama administration has tried to implement it through tying federal funding to these things,” he told attendees at an Iowa dinner in February.

He made those comments despite New Jersey’s federal education funding not being contingent on the adoption of Common Core. The state applied for and received nearly $38 million in federal funding as part of the administration’s “Race to the Top” program in 2011, but a fact sheet for that program said it required states to apply “common standards” but “does not endorse any particular consortium or set of standards.”

When asked for comment on the discrepancy between his previous concerns and actions and those articulated on Thursday, spokesmen for the governor would not comment other than to refer back to his speech.

Harrison, of Montclair State University, said Christie’s opting out of Common Core despite his past, vociferous support for the program might help his presidential bid in the short term, but could lead to pitfalls down the campaign trail.

“Sure, this is going to perhaps open up a door in terms of Mr. Christie being able to garner some support among conservatives. I think it also opens him up to criticism that he flip-flopped on this issue,” she said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Chris Christie Was for Common Core Before He Was Against It

Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have won points with conservatives when he announced Thursday he was pulling his state out of the federal Common Core education standards, but his concerns about the program don’t appear consistent with his two-term record on the program, according to an examination of his past statements and actions.

“It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it’s simply not working,” Christie, a likely Republican presidential candidate, said during a speech Thursday at Burlington County College in Pemberton, N.J.

But Christie praised the program for years after voluntarily adopting it in 2010. “We’re doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue. And this is one of those areas where I’ve agreed more with the president than not,” he told a Las Vegas school summit in August 2013.

During that speech, he derided members of Congress who were distancing themselves from Common Core, which was becoming increasingly unpopular with conservative activists, saying they were bowing to political pressure.

“Part of the problem in Congress right now, on both sides of the aisle, is that folks care more about their primaries than they care about anything else,” he said during the speech.

Christie did set up a nine-member commission of educators, state officials and administrators in July 2014, but its goal seemed geared towards evaluating student testing, not the Common Core curriculum itself.

“The Commission is charged with reviewing and providing appropriate recommendations about the effectiveness of the volume, frequency, and impact of student testing occurring throughout New Jersey school districts,” the announcement of the commission read in part.

Plus, the group’s interim recommendations, released in January 2015, only referred to Common Core in the context of the tests that assessed students’ grasp of the curriculum, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC). The commission warned that PARCC, which was phased in to New Jersey schools this year, was regarded by parents and teachers as “an example of over-testing.”

But Christie has defended the implementation of the PARCC test, even as it is explicitly linked to Common Core. “This will in no way affect our efforts to continue effective testing and measurements of our students through the PARCC test,” he said during Thursday’s speech.

While less infamous on the national stage than Common Core, PARCC remains unpopular in New Jersey. A February Monmouth University poll, the most recent on the topic, found PARCC’s disapproval rating among Garden State residents on par with Common Core’s.

Christie said his education commissioner, David Hespe, would be evaluating PARCC, but that getting rid of it entirely might jeopardize federal funding. “I’m not going to permit New Jersey to risk losing vital federal education funds because some would prefer to let the perfect get in the way of the good,” he said.

But that assertion was incongruous with a concern Christie had previously raised about Common Core: that the government was tying funds to the adoption of a specific federal education program.

“I have grave concerns about the way [Common Core] is being done, and especially the way the Obama administration has tried to implement it through tying federal funding to these things,” he told attendees at an Iowa dinner in February.

He made those comments despite New Jersey’s federal education funding not being contingent on the adoption of Common Core. The state applied for and received nearly $38 million in federal funding as part of the administration’s “Race to the Top” program in 2011, but a fact sheet for that program said it required states to apply “common standards” but “does not endorse any particular consortium or set of standards.”

When asked for comment on the discrepancy between his previous concerns and actions and those articulated on Thursday, spokesmen for the governor would not comment other than to refer back to his speech.

Harrison, of Montclair State University, said Christie’s opting out of Common Core despite his past, vociferous support for the program might help his presidential bid in the short term, but could lead to pitfalls down the campaign trail.

“Sure, this is going to perhaps open up a door in terms of Mr. Christie being able to garner some support among conservatives. I think it also opens him up to criticism that he flip-flopped on this issue,” she said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Chris Christie Was for Common Core Before He Was Against It

Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have won points with conservatives when he announced Thursday he was pulling his state out of the federal Common Core education standards, but his concerns about the program don’t appear consistent with his two-term record on the program, according to an examination of his past statements and actions.

“It’s now been five years since Common Core was adopted. And the truth is that it’s simply not working,” Christie, a likely Republican presidential candidate, said during a speech Thursday at Burlington County College in Pemberton, N.J.

But Christie praised the program for years after voluntarily adopting it in 2010. “We’re doing Common Core in New Jersey and we’re going to continue. And this is one of those areas where I’ve agreed more with the president than not,” he told a Las Vegas school summit in August 2013.

During that speech, he derided members of Congress who were distancing themselves from Common Core, which was becoming increasingly unpopular with conservative activists, saying they were bowing to political pressure.

“Part of the problem in Congress right now, on both sides of the aisle, is that folks care more about their primaries than they care about anything else,” he said during the speech.

Christie did set up a nine-member commission of educators, state officials and administrators in July 2014, but its goal seemed geared towards evaluating student testing, not the Common Core curriculum itself.

“The Commission is charged with reviewing and providing appropriate recommendations about the effectiveness of the volume, frequency, and impact of student testing occurring throughout New Jersey school districts,” the announcement of the commission read in part.

Plus, the group’s interim recommendations, released in January 2015, only referred to Common Core in the context of the tests that assessed students’ grasp of the curriculum, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC). The commission warned that PARCC, which was phased in to New Jersey schools this year, was regarded by parents and teachers as “an example of over-testing.”

But Christie has defended the implementation of the PARCC test, even as it is explicitly linked to Common Core. “This will in no way affect our efforts to continue effective testing and measurements of our students through the PARCC test,” he said during Thursday’s speech.

While less infamous on the national stage than Common Core, PARCC remains unpopular in New Jersey. A February Monmouth University poll, the most recent on the topic, found PARCC’s disapproval rating among Garden State residents on par with Common Core’s.

Christie said his education commissioner, David Hespe, would be evaluating PARCC, but that getting rid of it entirely might jeopardize federal funding. “I’m not going to permit New Jersey to risk losing vital federal education funds because some would prefer to let the perfect get in the way of the good,” he said.

But that assertion was incongruous with a concern Christie had previously raised about Common Core: that the government was tying funds to the adoption of a specific federal education program.

“I have grave concerns about the way [Common Core] is being done, and especially the way the Obama administration has tried to implement it through tying federal funding to these things,” he told attendees at an Iowa dinner in February.

He made those comments despite New Jersey’s federal education funding not being contingent on the adoption of Common Core. The state applied for and received nearly $38 million in federal funding as part of the administration’s “Race to the Top” program in 2011, but a fact sheet for that program said it required states to apply “common standards” but “does not endorse any particular consortium or set of standards.”

When asked for comment on the discrepancy between his previous concerns and actions and those articulated on Thursday, spokesmen for the governor would not comment other than to refer back to his speech.

Harrison, of Montclair State University, said Christie’s opting out of Common Core despite his past, vociferous support for the program might help his presidential bid in the short term, but could lead to pitfalls down the campaign trail.

“Sure, this is going to perhaps open up a door in terms of Mr. Christie being able to garner some support among conservatives. I think it also opens him up to criticism that he flip-flopped on this issue,” she said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Ash Carter Joins Facebook to Connect With Troops

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Catching the social media wave, Ash Carter has become the first defense secretary to join Facebook.

The decision to sign up on Facebook was made in an effort “to personally communicate with our nearly three million service members and civilians on social media,” the Pentagon said Friday in a statement.

Like most Facebook users on the road, Carter wanted to share a bit of his travels with his Facebook friends.

Currently in Singapore for a meeting of Asian defense ministers, Carter’s first post was about his flight aboard a Marine MV-22 Osprey over the Strait of Malacca. He shared a photo of his shaking hands with a Marine crew member during the flight.

It didn’t take long for the prime minister of Singapore to welcome him to Facebook with another social media institution, a selfie.

The Pentagon statement said Carter’s joining Facebook is “just one more way as secretary of defense he can better communicate with service members and their families and help the Pentagon think ‘outside the five sided box’ to drive change.”

Carter’s recent visit to Facebook headquarters, where he met with Facebook employees who are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “drove home for Secretary Carter the impact social media can have on connecting our troops to the American people and improving connections among the forces,” the Pentagon said.

“While no Secretary of Defense is able to meet with every service member personally, Facebook will help Secretary Carter reach service members and their families in a way that hasn’t been possible before,” the Pentagon added.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Hastert ‘Hush Money’ Involved Misconduct of Sexual Nature

Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) — The past misconduct referenced in Thursday’s indictment of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is of a sexual nature, dating back to his time as a high school coach and teacher in Yorkville, Illinois.

Hastert has not been arrested, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago told ABC News Friday, but his arraignment is expected to take place as early as next week. According to Thursday’s indictment, Hastert, 73 had agreed to pay an unidentified individual millions of dollars to “compensate and conceal” misconduct against that person.

Over a span of four years, the Justice Department said, Hastert withdrew $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts, doing so in a way that prevented banks from recording the transactions. Hastert made withdrawals of under $10,000 at a time — banks are forced to report cash transactions of more than that amount.

Hastert also allegedly lied to FBI agents, saying that he was keeping the money he withdrew for himself.

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Dennis Hastert Nixed Statue in His Honor

United States Congress(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) — The Illinois state legislature scrapped plans to construct a statue of Dennis Hastert earlier this month after the former U.S. House speaker asked that the project not move forward.

The Democratic speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan, had put forward a bill in early May proposing that $500,000 be set aside to place a statue of Hastert in the Illinois state Capitol. But soon thereafter, he withdrew the proposal at the request of Hastert, whom the feds accused this week of lying to FBI agents and trying to hide financial transactions intended to keep prior misconduct secret.

“About a month ago, the speaker contacted this office and asked that the whole [statue] idea be deferred,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told ABC News. “So, we honored that request.”

Brown said Hastert cited “the state’s fiscal condition” in making the case that the project not move forward. “He thought the state’s fiscal condition made it a not wise use of state funds,” he said.

Though Madigan’s office did not question Hastert’s reasoning, Brown said they had no concerns about the financial viability of the statue project. “We thought it was appropriate,” Brown said of the $500,000 that would have gone to the statue’s construction.

Madigan served alongside Hastert in the Illinois legislature in 1980s. He has declined to comment on Hastert’s recent indictment.

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