Review Category : Poltics

Angry About Ebola Response, Lawmakers Grill CDC Chief

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Federal health officials faced sharp questioning by the GOP-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday over the government’s handling of the growing Ebola crisis in the U.S.

Michigan Congressman Fred Upton, who chairs the committee, called the response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “unacceptable,” contending that “people are scared.”

The CDC has come under heavy criticism for not ensuring that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was up to speed in treating Ebola patients after a Liberian man was first turned away and then came back with full-blown symptoms of the disease.

Now, the hospital is monitoring dozens of health care workers who were in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan after two nurses contracted the virus from the patient who later died. One of those nurses, Amber Vinson, flew on a plane last Monday after apparently getting the okay from the CDC.

Asked about this, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told the House panel that he was unaware that Vinson was given approval to fly from Cleveland to Dallas, which has since resulted in a wild scramble to retrace Vinson’s steps. Several schools in Ohio and Texas were closed Thursday because of fears people who had flown with Vinson might have been exposed to Ebola.

Frieden said it was his “understanding that she reported no symptoms to us” although it has since been revealed Vinson was flying with an elevated temperature of 99.5. It was later reported that Vinson wasn’t feeling well before her trip to Cleveland one week ago, prompting the CDC to track down passengers on that flight as a precaution.

The CDC chief didn’t get riled even as questioning about the government’s response became more heated.

He told the panel, “There are no shortcuts in the control of Ebola and it is not easy to control it. To protect the United States we need to stop it at its source,” which is West Africa where the disease has spread rapidly since March, killing thousands.

Some lawmakers repeated their calls for a travel ban to countries most affected by the virus, but Frieden insisted that would be the wrong strategy because travelers would use other means to enter the U.S., making them completely untrackable.

In separate testimony, Dr. Daniel Varga, head of the medical group that oversees Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said that the hospital was at fault for failing to initially diagnose Duncan with Ebola, telling lawmakers, “Despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes.”

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Angry About Ebola Response, Lawmakers Grill CDC Chief

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Federal health officials faced sharp questioning by the GOP-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday over the government’s handling of the growing Ebola crisis in the U.S.

Michigan Congressman Fred Upton, who chairs the committee, called the response by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “unacceptable,” contending that “people are scared.”

The CDC has come under heavy criticism for not ensuring that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was up to speed in treating Ebola patients after a Liberian man was first turned away and then came back with full-blown symptoms of the disease.

Now, the hospital is monitoring dozens of health care workers who were in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan after two nurses contracted the virus from the patient who later died. One of those nurses, Amber Vinson, flew on a plane last Monday after apparently getting the okay from the CDC.

Asked about this, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told the House panel that he was unaware that Vinson was given approval to fly from Cleveland to Dallas, which has since resulted in a wild scramble to retrace Vinson’s steps. Several schools in Ohio and Texas were closed Thursday because of fears people who had flown with Vinson might have been exposed to Ebola.

Frieden said it was his “understanding that she reported no symptoms to us” although it has since been revealed Vinson was flying with an elevated temperature of 99.5. It was later reported that Vinson wasn’t feeling well before her trip to Cleveland one week ago, prompting the CDC to track down passengers on that flight as a precaution.

The CDC chief didn’t get riled even as questioning about the government’s response became more heated.

He told the panel, “There are no shortcuts in the control of Ebola and it is not easy to control it. To protect the United States we need to stop it at its source,” which is West Africa where the disease has spread rapidly since March, killing thousands.

Some lawmakers repeated their calls for a travel ban to countries most affected by the virus, but Frieden insisted that would be the wrong strategy because travelers would use other means to enter the U.S., making them completely untrackable.

In separate testimony, Dr. Daniel Varga, head of the medical group that oversees Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said that the hospital was at fault for failing to initially diagnose Duncan with Ebola, telling lawmakers, “Despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes.”

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POLL: Most Back SCOTUS on Gay Marriage — Including in the Affected States

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Most Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support the recent U.S. Supreme Court action allowing gay marriages to go forward in several states — including a bare majority in the 11 states in which such marriages have begun in the past week and a half.

Overall, 56 percent of Americans support the court’s action, while 38 percent oppose it — exactly matching opinions on whether or not gay marriage should be legal, asked in an ABC/Post poll in June. These results reflect the public’s dramatic shift in support of gay marriage the past decade.

By declining to hear several appeals, the high court cleared the way for gay marriage in five states — Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Three others in the same jurisdictions followed suit (Colorado, North Carolina and West Virginia), and gay marriage bans in three additional states, Idaho, Nevada and Alaska, were rejected by other courts in the past week.

In the 19 states (and Washington, D.C.) that had previously legalized gay marriage, the court’s decision is especially popular: Sixty-six percent support the decision, with 30 percent opposed. Support is sharply lower, but still 51 percent, in the 11 states that have allowed gay marriage since the Supreme Court’s action, vs. 42 percent opposed. (The rest are undecided.)

Americans divide similarly, by 48-44 percent, support-oppose, on the court’s action in the 20 remaining states in which gay marriage remains illegal.

More than half of Americans have supported legalizing gay marriage steadily in ABC/Post polls since March 2011, a sea change from earlier attitudes. Support was as low as 32 percent (in a poll among registered voters) a decade ago.

At the same time, the issue remains divisive. This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that seven in 10 strong conservatives, nearly two-thirds of Republicans and 72 percent of evangelical white Protestants oppose the court action.

Sentiment on both sides, moreover, is intense — seven in 10 Americans have strong feelings on the subject, including 38 percent who “strongly” support the court action and 32 percent who strongly oppose it. Only 18 and 6 percent “somewhat” support or oppose the action, respectively.

GROUPS – Support includes more than seven in 10 college graduates and adults under 40, and more than six in 10 Catholics and non-evangelical Protestants alike, falling sharply among their counterparts.

Eight in 10 liberals are in favor, as are six in 10 moderates, vs. just a third of conservatives. And support ranges from 72 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents to 25 percent of Republicans. Indeed, in a separate question, 49 percent of independents say their opinion of gay marriage is closer to the Democratic Party’s; just 23 percent say they’re closer to the GOP on the issue. Largely as a result, Americans overall are 17 points more likely to side with the Democratic Party over the GOP on the issue of gay marriage, 48 vs. 31 percent.

Partisan differences explain some of the variability in state groupings. In the 19 states where gay marriage was previously legal, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 15 points, 35 to 20 percent. In the 11 states where such marriages began this week, fewer are Democrats — 26 percent — vs. 29 percent Republicans. It’s a 29-25 percent split in the 20 remaining states where gay marriage remains illegal.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 9-12, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,006 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Kerry Reflects, Talks ISIS at Eid al-Adha Reception

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated Eid al-Adha, marking the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in which nearly two million Muslims take part every year, at a State Department reception on Thursday.

“We’re celebrating the meaning and importance of sacrifice and devotion in our lives,” Kerry said. “Eid al-Adha is a special time for charity and compassion, and for prayer and reflection.” He took part in that reflection too, saying that “if I went back to college today I would at least minor, if not major in comparative religion.”

Kerry also took the opportunity to call on other world leaders involved in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, urging them to exhibit “mutual respect, without anybody asserting that they have a better way or a better answer.”

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Kerry Reflects, Talks ISIS at Eid al-Adha Reception

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated Eid al-Adha, marking the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in which nearly two million Muslims take part every year, at a State Department reception on Thursday.

“We’re celebrating the meaning and importance of sacrifice and devotion in our lives,” Kerry said. “Eid al-Adha is a special time for charity and compassion, and for prayer and reflection.” He took part in that reflection too, saying that “if I went back to college today I would at least minor, if not major in comparative religion.”

Kerry also took the opportunity to call on other world leaders involved in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, urging them to exhibit “mutual respect, without anybody asserting that they have a better way or a better answer.”

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Kerry Reflects, Talks ISIS at Eid al-Adha Reception

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated Eid al-Adha, marking the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in which nearly two million Muslims take part every year, at a State Department reception on Thursday.

“We’re celebrating the meaning and importance of sacrifice and devotion in our lives,” Kerry said. “Eid al-Adha is a special time for charity and compassion, and for prayer and reflection.” He took part in that reflection too, saying that “if I went back to college today I would at least minor, if not major in comparative religion.”

Kerry also took the opportunity to call on other world leaders involved in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, urging them to exhibit “mutual respect, without anybody asserting that they have a better way or a better answer.”

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Joe Biden’s Son Hunter Biden Discharged From Navy After Positive Cocaine Test

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy in February after testing positive for cocaine, a person familiar with the case confirmed to ABC News.

The person said Biden had failed a urinalysis test and was discharged from the Navy.

“It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge,” Hunter Biden said in a statement distributed through his lawyer. “I respect the Navy’s decision. With the love and support of my family, I’m moving forward.”

The person familiar with the case said he “was treated no different than any other sailor.”

Biden, 44, had needed an age waiver to join the Reserves because of his age as well as a second waiver because of a drug-related incident while a young man.

Separately, a Navy spokesman confirmed that Biden had been discharged from the Navy, but because of Privacy Act restrictions could not detail why he had been discharged.

“Ensign Hunter Biden was selected for commission through the Direct Commission Officer Program in 2012,” Cmd. Ryan Perry said. “In May, 2013 he was assigned to the Navy Public Supports Element East in Norfolk, Virginia. He was discharged from the Navy Reserve in February, 2014. Like other junior officers, the details of Ensign Biden’s discharge are not releasable under the Privacy Act.”

News of Hunter Biden’s discharge was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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TSA Administrator to Retire from Public Service

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — John Pistole, the longest-serving administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, announced on Thursday that he is retiring from public service at the end of the year.

Pistole spent 26 years at the FBI before working at the TSA for the last four and a half years. According to a TSA press release, Pistole is expected to be named to a position in the academic field early next year.

Pistole called it “an honor and a privilege to have served as TSA Administrator.” In a statement, he said, “No words can convey my deep gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the thousands of men and women committed to protecting the American public.”

Pistole, who joined the FBI in 1983, was nominated for the administrator position in 2010 and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thanked Pistole for his service and highlighted his leadership in launching the TSA’s pre-check program that is now used by more than five million passengers each week at 120 U.S. airports.

“John Pistole has been integral in leading TSA’s transformation to a risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism agency dedicated to protecting our transportation systems,” Johnson said. “Because of his efforts…our country’s transportation systems are more safe and secure.”

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TSA Administrator to Retire from Public Service

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — John Pistole, the longest-serving administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, announced on Thursday that he is retiring from public service at the end of the year.

Pistole spent 26 years at the FBI before working at the TSA for the last four and a half years. According to a TSA press release, Pistole is expected to be named to a position in the academic field early next year.

Pistole called it “an honor and a privilege to have served as TSA Administrator.” In a statement, he said, “No words can convey my deep gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the thousands of men and women committed to protecting the American public.”

Pistole, who joined the FBI in 1983, was nominated for the administrator position in 2010 and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thanked Pistole for his service and highlighted his leadership in launching the TSA’s pre-check program that is now used by more than five million passengers each week at 120 U.S. airports.

“John Pistole has been integral in leading TSA’s transformation to a risk-based, intelligence-driven counterterrorism agency dedicated to protecting our transportation systems,” Johnson said. “Because of his efforts…our country’s transportation systems are more safe and secure.”

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James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, to Resign

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Deputy Attorney General James Cole is planning to resign from his post, leaving the administration after four years of operating as the Justice Department’s COO.

Cole is the second-longest-serving deputy attorney general, and the longest serving in over 50 years. A Justice Department official tells ABC News that Cole informed the White House of his decision on Sept. 18 and that he will leave the administration as soon as the end of the year. He had also informed Attorney General Eric Holder prior to informing the White House.

The official said that Cole does not have plans for immediately after leaving the department, but that he would like to be involved in issues including sentencing reform and helping prisoners re-enter society.

Cole joined the Justice Department in 1979, left to enter private practice in 1992, and returned as deputy attorney general in 2010.

Last month, Holder announced his impending resignation from the position of attorney general.

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