Review Category : Poltics

Threat to Obama’s Niece Prompts Tighter NCAA Game Security

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — Someone called the University of Maryland on Monday, saying a man was driving to the school to shoot President Obama’s niece, a member of the Princeton basketball team scheduled to play there Monday night, the university said.

Maryland officials posted extra security at the NCAA tournament game Monday evening, according to a statement from the school police department.

According to the statement, campus police received a call Monday at approximately 3 p.m. from a woman saying that she had received a text from a third party indicating that a male that she knew had a gun and mentioned President Obama’s niece, Leslie Robinson, the daughter of Michelle Obama’s brother.

UMPD officers began an immediate investigation into the call and notified the Secret Service, the school said.

“Our investigation reveals at this time that these details that were passed on from this third party are unsubstantiated,” UMPD Major Marc Limansky said in the statement.

The game was played Monday night without incident.

A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told ABC News police were able to run the alleged threat down to the source and there is essentially no threat.

The source said it was clear pretty early on that there was no threat, but they had additional manpower and stepped up security out of an abundance of caution.

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Hillary Clinton Jokes About Emails, Praises the Press at Event

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — At an awards ceremony in the nation’s capital for the political-reporting prize named after the late reporter Robin Toner, Hillary Clinton joked late Monday about her sometimes-adversarial relationship with the press–and about her private email account.

Clinton joked with the crowd of reporters that her relationship with the press has always been “complicated” and she is “well aware that some of you may be a little surprised” that she’s here at this awards reception.

“A new email address, why not a new relationship with the press,” Clinton joked.

She also offered up some sympathy for the press and analysis of changes for the industry.

“Every day, you, the writers and reporters in this room, are under even more pressure…from the market…and of course from our politics,” Clinton said. “I think the stakes are really high. Too many of our most important debates occur in what I call an evidence-free zone.”

While public officials and politicians might not always be happy with reporters, Clinton said, “We do understand, in our more rational moments, that is your job.”

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Hillary Clinton Jokes About Emails, Praises the Press at Event

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — At an awards ceremony in the nation’s capital for the political-reporting prize named after the late reporter Robin Toner, Hillary Clinton joked late Monday about her sometimes-adversarial relationship with the press–and about her private email account.

Clinton joked with the crowd of reporters that her relationship with the press has always been “complicated” and she is “well aware that some of you may be a little surprised” that she’s here at this awards reception.

“A new email address, why not a new relationship with the press,” Clinton joked.

She also offered up some sympathy for the press and analysis of changes for the industry.

“Every day, you, the writers and reporters in this room, are under even more pressure…from the market…and of course from our politics,” Clinton said. “I think the stakes are really high. Too many of our most important debates occur in what I call an evidence-free zone.”

While public officials and politicians might not always be happy with reporters, Clinton said, “We do understand, in our more rational moments, that is your job.”

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No Announcement at Camp David on Delaying the US Afghan Withdrawal

State Department photo(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Ghani both said Monday at a Camp David news conference that President Obama is still considering Ghani’s request to delay the pace of this year’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Originally the 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan would have been reduced to half that by year’s end and cut to an embassy presence by the end of 2016.

Ghani has requested that process be delayed to help Afghan troops get through this summer’s fighting season.

“President Obama is actively considering that request,” said Kerry, who indicated that discussion would be the focus of tomorrow’s meetings at the White House between the two presidents.

Ghani said the troops decision “will solely be made by President Obama,” though he also said “numbers are a means; they are not an end in themselves.”

In his opening statement Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the U.S. would provide funding to maintain current Afghan security force levels of 352,000 through 2017, one year more than had been scheduled.

Carter said providing the funding was “a way of providing some future horizon and stability to that force as it builds itself and takes over an increasing share of the — of the security mission in Afghanistan.”

Afghan troop levels are currently at 330,000 but Ghani made the point that it’s not about troop numbers but about maintaining Afghanistan’s partnership with the U.S. and the international community.

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No Announcement at Camp David on Delaying the US Afghan Withdrawal

State Department photo(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Ghani both said Monday at a Camp David news conference that President Obama is still considering Ghani’s request to delay the pace of this year’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Originally the 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan would have been reduced to half that by year’s end and cut to an embassy presence by the end of 2016.

Ghani has requested that process be delayed to help Afghan troops get through this summer’s fighting season.

“President Obama is actively considering that request,” said Kerry, who indicated that discussion would be the focus of tomorrow’s meetings at the White House between the two presidents.

Ghani said the troops decision “will solely be made by President Obama,” though he also said “numbers are a means; they are not an end in themselves.”

In his opening statement Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the U.S. would provide funding to maintain current Afghan security force levels of 352,000 through 2017, one year more than had been scheduled.

Carter said providing the funding was “a way of providing some future horizon and stability to that force as it builds itself and takes over an increasing share of the — of the security mission in Afghanistan.”

Afghan troop levels are currently at 330,000 but Ghani made the point that it’s not about troop numbers but about maintaining Afghanistan’s partnership with the U.S. and the international community.

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Neurosurgeon and UN Ambassador Lead NCAA Bracket Among 2016 Presidential Hopefuls

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Nearly all of the potential 2016 presidential candidates have graciously entered our NCAA tournament bracket pool, perhaps eager for some competition in this pre-campaign, exploratory phase of the 2016 presidential contest. So how are they doing?

Although he’s not ahead in the polls, neurosurgeon Ben Carson has a sizable lead in the ABC News 2016 presidential bracket pool. Carson’s bracket is currently in the 85th percentile of all the brackets on ESPN.com, a solid rank in a year full of upsets.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s not far behind, ranking in the 77th percentile. Though unlike the majority of candidates, Walker selected his home-state Badgers to win the tournament, which sets him apart from the majority, who selected Kentucky.

The opening rounds have been tough on Rick Santorum, who sits at the bottom of the bracket pool. He picked the favorite in almost every game, which led to the early loss of half of his Final Four teams — Villanova and Iowa State.

Jim Gilmore, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal and Martin O’Malley have each already lost their champion teams. Gilmore, Fiorina and Bush all had the swing state of Virginia selected as their champion — a politically savvy move, perhaps, but not one that’s paid off in our pool. Jindal and O’Malley picked their home-state teams of Louisiana State University and Maryland, which was a risky proposition to begin with because they were ninth and fourth seeds, respectively.

Wisconsin isn’t counted among the critical, early-primary states, but it may decide the winner of the 2015 presidential bracket pool. Carson has the Badgers coming up short against North Carolina this round and Arizona advancing to the Final Four from the West. Both Carson and Walker still have three teams left in their Final Four selections — more than any other candidates in the top half of the presidential bracket pool.

But if Kentucky comes out on top, as ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight predicts, Carson will almost certainly win the pool.

In our women’s NCAA tournament pool, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is in the lead among five other 2016ers. With all of his final four picks still in the game, including his home state Maryland, Bolton ranks in the 97th percentile on ESPN.com.

Trailing not far behind, Carly Fiorina ranks in the 85th percentile on ESPN.com. With her calculated picks, Fiorina chose two of her alma maters, University of Maryland and Stanford, advancing to the Final Four with Maryland winning it all.

Bobby Jindal falls right in the middle, but his NCAA winner pick, his home team Louisiana State University, is already out of the game with an early loss this past weekend. Eleventh-seed LSU is the only low seed that Jindal picked for the Final Four, sticking by his home state.

Martin O’Malley and George Pataki are tied at the 40th percentile while Jim Gilmore, ranking in the 13th percentile on ESPN.com, lands at the bottom of the pool.

If Maryland comes out on top, then Fiorina has a chance to win the bracket challenge. However, if Fiorina’s alma mater fails to advance even in the championship game, Bolton will most likely remain as the bracket winner.

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White House Says Afghan Drawdown Plan Has Been ‘Clear and Firm’

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The White House reiterated on Monday that a planned military drawdown in Afghanistan has been “clear and firm,” despite talk of troop levels being extended.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his administration are on their first official visit to the United States this week, starting with a security meeting at Camp David on Monday with Secretary of State John Kerry.

It’s expected that Ghani will be asking the U.S. to maintain the current military levels of around 10,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan beyond 2016, instead of sticking to President Obama’s plan to draw down troops to about 1,500.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday that troop numbers will be a sticking point.

“Making a substantial commitment of U.S. troops to Afghanistan again is not in our national security interest,” Earnest said. “Drawing the United States into another land war in Asia is not in our best interest.”

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Obama Talks Brainstorming With Cape-Clad Kid Scientists

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The 6-year-old inventors at Monday’s White House Science Fair are “better brainstormers” than Obama — at least that’s what the president thinks.

During a tour of the winning science projects at the White House on Monday, Girl Scout Troop 411 told Obama they generated their idea for a Lego-based automatic page turner during a group “brainstorming session.”

“You guys are already better brainstormers than I am,” the president told the girls, all clad in superhero capes.

The page-turning device — embellished with multicolored bricks and Lego people — was “working really well, although you gotta read kind of fast,” Obama observed. “Are you guys able to speed it up and slow it down?”

“It’s a prototype,” said one of the girls.

“It’s a prototype! It will get refined later,” Obama said with a laugh. “That’s what I’m saying.”

“Have you ever had a brainstorming session yourself?” one of the girls asked the POTUS.

“I have had a couple brainstorming sessions, but I didn’t come up with anything this good!” the president said. “I came up with things like, you know, health care. Yeah, it turned out okay — but it started off with some prototypes.”

“He was a lot more fun than I expected!” 6-year-old Karissa Chang said of Obama. “That was pretty awesome and pretty funny.”

Developing the Affordable Care Act “might take three months, just like it took for us,” Chang remarked to ABC News.

Other inventions on display at the White House on Monday included a spinal implant that grows with the patient, an algae-based biofuel, and a hiccup-curing lollipop.

“These young scientists and engineers teach us something beyond the specific topics that they’re exploring. They teach us how to question assumptions, to wonder why something is the way it is, and how we can make it better. And they remind us that there’s always something more to learn, and to try, and to discover, and to imagine,” Obama said.

“We don’t want to just increase the number of American students in STEM,” the president added, referring to science, technology, engineering and math. “We want to make sure everybody is involved. We want to increase the diversity of STEM programs, as well.”

Cierra Ramirez, who plays a teenage coder on ABC’s The Fosters and attended the White House event as a VIP, said the fair shows young people — especially young girls — that “you can be both beautiful and smart.”

“Women don’t really make up a lot of STEM, especially girls of color. So, to be able to represent both parts of that, and to hopefully inspire some young girls who watch the show to continue to follow their dreams, if they’re interested in it, is awesome,” she said.

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Ted Cruz Could Be First Canadian-Born US President: Here’s Why

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Most Americans learn early on that you can’t be president of the United States unless you’re born in America. But to the confusion of civics students everywhere, Ted Cruz’s presidential story begins in Canada.

The Texas senator, who officially announced his bid for president Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, was born in Calgary, Canada, in 1970. (Cruz even briefly mentioned Canada in his speech.)

So, why doesn’t the Canadian-born U.S. senator seem to be worried?

Let’s review:

According to the Constitution, a presidential candidate must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States.

While Cruz received U.S. citizenship through his American mother, he was a Canadian citizen by virtue of his birth, the Dallas Morning News discovered in 2013.

While some conservatives–and Donald Trump—have questioned Cruz’s presidential eligibility, and the Supreme Court has never weighed in on the subject, many legal experts believe his Canadian citizenship doesn’t disqualify him from running for president. Both John McCain and George Romney ran for president despite being born in the Panama Canal Zone and Mexico, respectively.

The most recent defense of Cruz’s eligibility came in a recent article in the Harvard Law Review, where two lawyers who worked in the Bush and Obama administrations argued that Cruz’s mother’s citizenship and his father’s status as a U.S. resident covered the Constitution’s requirement.

“Despite the happenstance of a birth across the border, there is no question that Senator Cruz has been a citizen from birth and is thus a ‘natural born Citizen’ within the meaning of the Constitution,” wrote Paul Clement, a Bush administration solicitor general and Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration.

Cruz vowed to “renounce any Canadian citizenship” following the initial reporting in 2013.

“Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator, I believe I should be only an American,” he said in a statement in 2013.

Cruz formally renounced his citizenship in an official “Canadian Renunciation Letter” on May 14, 2014.

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Ted Cruz’s Word of the Day: ‘Imagine’

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(LYNCHBURG, Va.) — Speaking before thousands of students packed into a sports arena Monday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz formally announced his presidential campaign in a speech that amounted to a political sermon of sorts.

“I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise of America, and that is why today I am announcing that I’m running for president of the United States,” Cruz said at Liberty University Monday.

The word of the day for Cruz was “imagine” — using the word 38 times to paint a picture of the president he would be.

“I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison ‘we demand our liberty,'” he said.

Cruz, 44, asked students to “imagine” a president that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and halt President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. But the biggest applause line of the day at the Christian university came when the Republican talked about his support for Israel.

“Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel,” Cruz said, prompting the crowd to chant “USA, USA.”

Sitting just off stage was Cruz’s family — his wife Heidi and two daughters Catherine and Caroline. He was also joined by his mother and his father, Rafael Cruz, who fled Cuba in the 1950s.

Cruz’s entrance in the race makes him the first major candidate to officially declare for 2016.

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