Review Category : Poltics

Obama Meets with National Security Team Ahead of Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Ahead of his address to the nation Wednesday night, President Obama met with his national security team in the Situation Room.

Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, among others.

No other details were provided on the meeting, which was closed to the press.

Obama will outline his strategy for dealing with ISIS, the militant group that has executed two American journalists and terrorized civilians in Iraq and nearby Syria, in a major address to the American people Wednesday at 9 p.m.

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Sen. Dean Heller Asks NFL for Info on Ray Rice Case

Allison Joyce/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., sent a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday asking the NFL to answer questions about its handling of the Ray Rice case, including questions about the video showing the running back punching his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, hotel elevator.

“After viewing both the shocking video and your interview on broadcast television, I am extremely concerned given the resources of the NFL that not one person within your organization knew anything about the existence of the elevator video before it surfaced on September 8th. The security of the NFL is first rate and your qualified security professionals hold those positions due in part to their ability to obtain facts quickly and accurately through their expansive network,” Heller wrote in the letter.

“I fear the failure of the NFL to understand the scope and severity of this act of domestic violence has already led to significant damage for vulnerable members of society. Moreover, I am highly disappointed the NFL’s reaction was only heightened once the public witnessed the elevator video. By waiting to act until it was made public you effectively condoned the action of the perpetrator himself. I cannot and will not tolerate that position by anybody let alone the National Football League,” he continued.

Heller goes on to ask Goodell to respond to the following questions:

  1. “Please provide me a detailed explanation regarding your actions in response to the acts of domestic violence conducted by former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
  2. Please provide all information regarding whether anyone in the NFL knew about the elevator video, if so, when did they know, who did they tell and why did it not get to you.
  3. Please provide your process for determining whether a player has violated NFL rules and is subject to suspension when arrested for domestic violence.
  4. Please outline your plans to address the harm your league has inflicted on survivors of domestic violence going forward.”

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US Conference of Catholic Bishops Urge Jeh Johnson to Act on Immigration

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A letter sent by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday urged Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to, “use [his] authority to protect undocumented individuals and families as soon as possible.”

The USCCB specifically asked Johnson to authorize deferred action for select groups of immigrants, including those with strong community ties in the U.S. who have lived in the country for 10 years or longer, those who are parents of U.S. citizens, parents of recipients of deferred action for childhood arrivals, and individuals residing in the U.S. with approved family and employment petitions.

“With immigration reform stalled in Congress,” the USCCB wrote, “our nation can no longer wait to end the suffering of family separation caused by our broken immigration system.”

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Obama to Seek UN Security Council Resolution to Crack Down on Foreign Fighters

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama plans to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution requiring a crackdown on foreign fighters joining terror groups like ISIS.

A National Security Council official told ABC News on Tuesday that Obama hopes the U.N. Security Council could require countries to clamp down on foreign fighters’ travel through means including seizing passports. Additionally, he would like those foreign nations to share information with Interpol.

The National Security Council official says that any violation of such a resolution could then be enforceable under chapter seven of the U.N. Charter, entitled “Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of Peace and Acts of Aggression.”

Obama will chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sept. 24 in New York, the first time a U.S. President will do so since 2009. He is expected to seek the resolution during that meeting.

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Sen. McCaskill Leads Senate Hearing on Militarization of Local Police

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the Pentagon’s Congressionally-mandated program providing local police departments with access to surplus military gear, an issue that arose after the tense standoffs between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri last month.

Since 1990, when Congress allowed the transfers as a means of helping police forces thwart drug dealers, $5.1 billion in property has been provided to local police departments. Among the equipment given to local police over the life of the program are 44,000 night vision devices, 5,200 Humvees, 617 Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles and 92,000 small arms.

During the course of the hearing, many Congressional leaders questioned whether the program was doing more harm than good. “Those lawful, peaceful protesters on that Wednesday afternoon in Ferguson, Missouri, did not deserve to be treated like enemy combatants,” Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-S.C. argued that the program had “gotten out of control,” while noting that bayonets are available under the program.

A Pentagon acquisition official responded to Paul, confirming that bayonets are available under the program, but said he was unable to explain why local police forces would need bayonets. “I can give you an answer,” Paul responded: “None.”

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President Obama to Propose Immediate Effort to Train Syrian Opposition

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with congressional leaders, President Obama said he wants to immediately begin a program to provide military training to the moderate opposition in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, a senior White House official said.

Unlike already established, secret CIA programs to support the Syrian rebels, this would be an overt program to train the rebels at camps that would be set up in countries in the region that have now agreed to allow the training to take part on their territory, according to the official.

The official would not specify where in the region the training would take place, but pointed to a trip over the weekend by White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The president told congressional leaders he needs authority from Congress to begin this training program, the official said. It will require a vote of Congress. The White House was adamant that the vote must come immediately, the source said.

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President Obama to Propose Immediate Effort to Train Syrian Opposition

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with congressional leaders, President Obama said he wants to immediately begin a program to provide military training to the moderate opposition in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, a senior White House official said.

Unlike already established, secret CIA programs to support the Syrian rebels, this would be an overt program to train the rebels at camps that would be set up in countries in the region that have now agreed to allow the training to take part on their territory, according to the official.

The official would not specify where in the region the training would take place, but pointed to a trip over the weekend by White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The president told congressional leaders he needs authority from Congress to begin this training program, the official said. It will require a vote of Congress. The White House was adamant that the vote must come immediately, the source said.

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Harry Reid Demands Apology from GOP Candidate

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running for Senate as a Republican in Louisiana, owes him a “big time” apology, after Cassidy accused him of running the Senate “like a plantation.”

“With all the things going on in America today, that’s fairly insensitive. That’s really insensitive, very insensitive and if there were ever a statement that deserved an apology, this is it, big time,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “I mean, has he been taking lessons from Donald Sterling? Where did he get this?”

Cassidy, the Republican front-runner challenging Democratic three-term incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in this year’s midterm election, was quoted comparing Reid to a plantation owner in an article published Tuesday morning by Environment & Energy News.

“So instead of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops,’” Cassidy said of Reid.

Though Cassidy is hardly the first Republican to speak critically of the majority leader, who has become a lightning rod for Republican discontent with the Democratic-controlled Senate, the racial implications behind Cassidy’s comment escalated the rhetoric to a new level.

But Cassidy stood by his accusation against Reid, saying that offense should instead be taken from Reid’s leadership of the Senate.

“I wish there was as much offense taken by Harry Reid running the Senate dictatorially, not allowing any votes which he does not personally approve of and the result of which he does not endorse,” Cassidy told ABC News in a statement. “Any other interpretation of my remarks is a false controversy designed to distract attention from policies which are demonstrably crushing jobs and taking our country in the wrong direction.”

Tea Party candidate Rob Maness, also running against Landrieu and Cassidy in Louisiana’s “jungle primary” this November, called on Cassidy to apologize and called Cassidy’s comment “ignorant.”

“Congressman Cassidy may not realize this but the language he used included a term that is incredibly offensive to many Americans and he should immediately apologize,” Maness said in a statement emailed to reporters. “It’s this type of over-the-top, out-of-bounds ignorance that drives so many people away from the Republican Party. We need to be better than that.”

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Oregon GOP Senate Candidate Unveils Pro-Gay Marriage Ad

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A Republican Senate candidate in Oregon is bucking the GOP by embracing gay marriage in a new campaign ad.

The ad from the campaign of Dr. Monica Wehby, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, prominently features a gay couple — Ben West, of Portland, who filed a lawsuit in 2013 with partner Paul Rummell to overturn Oregon’s same sex-marriage ban that went into effect in 2004.

Their case was combined with other Oregon couples who also sought the right to marry after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2012. Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban was later ruled unconstitutional.

Wehby’s ad features photos and videos of West and Rummell on their wedding day and cheering after winning their court case. It closes with a photo of West and Wehby smiling together, where West says Wehby will “fight for every Oregon family, including mine.”

The majority of the Republican Party has opposed gay marriage, making Wehby a maverick in her party.

Along with the ad, West and Rummell also endorsed Wehby in a statement: “Monica is the leader our state needs to create better paying jobs, a stronger economy, and a future that delivers on the promise of building better opportunities for the next generation.”

In her own statement Wehby, who is aiming to broaden her appeal to pro-gay marriage voters in the solid blue state, said that she is “proud and humbled to have the support and Ben and Paul. Their courage to stand up for their family and against inequality is inspiring and embodies the spirit I will serve with as Oregon’s next Senator.”

Wehby is currently the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland. She has also served as a Republican Precinct Committee Person, as president for both the Oregon Medical Association and Portland Medical Society and on the board of directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

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Ray Rice Video Points Congress to ‘Forceful Initiative’ on Domestic Violence

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — The Ray Rice episode is spurring members of Congress to develop new ways to force sports leagues to more aggressively punish domestic violence cases, with rumblings of bipartisan efforts to make sure leagues and franchises don’t minimize such allegations in the future.

In the latest episode of the ESPN-ABC News podcast “Capital Games,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the fact that only “gruesome, gripping footage” of the alleged assault led the NFL to suspend Rice indefinitely suggests that pro sports entities still don’t get the gravity of domestic violence.

Blumenthal, who led the charge in Congress calling for a harsher penalty when the Rice incident first surfaced earlier this year, said he’s planning to huddle with both Democratic and Republican colleagues to react to the fallout. The reaction may include legislation on Capitol Hill, though no plans have been put forward yet, he said.

“I am going to be talking to my colleagues while I’m here, literally, these next days and weeks, in trying to put together a more forceful initiative and more aggressive encouragement, whether it’s in legislation or some other way — so that the NFL and other major sports leagues address this problem more effectively,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said the NFL finally reached the “right result” with the indefinite suspension of Rice and the Baltimore Ravens’ move to terminate his contract. But even the NFL’s new, stiffer penalties for domestic violence aren’t adequate, he said, and the senator added that he hopes the league realizes that before Congress would force further action.

“The NFL should stiffen its penalty [regime],” he said. “Perhaps Congress should intervene and act. But my hope is that the NFL will take the leadership and send the message that this kind of assault and violence is intolerable.”

Blumenthal said he’s also troubled by the way the Ravens were involved “stage-managing” the apology issued by Rice’s wife, who was his fiancée at the time of the alleged assault in an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino in February.

“She was put on stage, apologized for her role — in effect aggravating this syndrome of blaming the victim. And so that is really exactly the opposite of the kind of message that advocates and experts on domestic violence want to see shown,” Blumenthal said.

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