Review Category : Poltics

Head of House Homeland Security Committee Disturbed by Events in Yemen

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Sunday morning that he was alarmed by the chaos that has engulfed Yemen, which has led to the withdrawal of U.S. special operations forces from the war-torn country.

The Texas congressman also cited the blurring of lines between the various Islamist extremist groups operating in the country as a threat.

“I think these developments in Yemen greatly disturb me, because of the – their potential to attack the United States,” McCaul told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on This Week Sunday.

Yemen, which is engulfed in a civil war, endured a string of attacks across its capital this week that left over 130 people dead, including at two Shiite mosques.

The U.S., which recently closed its embassy in Yemen, also decided to pull its remaining special operations forces from the country this weekend because of the escalating violence.

McCaul said the move leaves the U.S. with no intelligence resources in the country, which has been a critical hot spot in the U.S. fight against terrorism.

“I think the problem is that we’re not going to have any intelligence in Yemen. Yemen is one of the most dangerous spots in the world. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the largest external operation force within al Qaeda,” McCaul said.

“Good intelligence stops plots against the homeland. Without that intelligence, we cannot effectively stop it. That’s what I’m most concerned about,” he added.

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Ted Cruz Running For President: Texas Senator to Announce 2016 White House Bid Monday

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Texas Senator Ted Cruz will announce his presidential campaign Monday, becoming the first major presidential candidate to officially enter the 2016 race.

Aides to the Republican senator tell ABC News he will make the announcement during the convocation speech at Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Monday morning. News of the announcement was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.

Cruz, 44, is the first major candidate to enter what is expected to be a crowded Republican primary field that will likely include candidates like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. By announcing his candidacy, the Texas senator will skip the exploratory process many presidential candidates undergo.

Cruz’s announcement will officially kick off the 2016 presidential race. Several candidates, including Paul and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are expected to announce their presidential campaigns in April.

The Texas senator has made frequent trips to the early primary states over the last two years as he’s mulled his presidential bid. He’s traveled to Iowa nine times, New Hampshire five times, and South Carolina five times since 2012.

WHO IS TED CRUZ?

Cruz rose to political stardom in 2012 as a Tea Party candidate who secured the Republican nomination in the Texas Senate primary against then Lieutenant Governor Ted Dewhurst, the establishment-backed candidate. In November of that year, Cruz won the Senate seat and is currently serving in his third year in the Senate.

He has been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s immigration and healthcare plans. In 2013, he led a 21 hour filibuster on the Senate floor in protest against Obamacare just days before a government shutdown.

Cruz, a Cuban-American, was born in Calgary, Canada to an American mother and a father who fled Cuba in the 1950’s. Cruz held dual citizenship until 2014, when he formally denounced his Canadian citizenship.

Cruz received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. From 2003 to 2008, he served as solicitor general in Texas.

Despite being a first-time presidential candidate, Cruz has some experience in national campaigns. In 2000, he served as a domestic policy adviser on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

Cruz has also worked at the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department, in addition to clerking for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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Instagram Photographers Descend on the White House

TylerFairbank/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — More than 1,500 amateur and professional photographers applied but only about two dozen were selected by the White House to participate in a day of shooting on its grounds.

It was all part of the White House’s participation in a “Worldwide InstaMeet,” a social media event hosted by Instagram a few times each year where people meet in specific places to “connect, take photos together and inspire one another,” the photo-sharing company says.

This was not the only time the administration had done an Instagram event: It once gave special access to its gardens and kitchen for a smaller domestic InstaMeet in 2013. Similarly it was used by the National Park Service when the Washington Monument was reopened and by the National Zoo to introduce its baby panda, Bao Bao. But this year was a first for participation in a world-scale meet.

Here are some of our favorites from the shoot, but more can be found by following the “#WHInstaMeet” hashtag on Twitter or Instagram.

No photo tour of the White House would be complete without a massive group selfie with Pete Souza, the official White House photographer for President Obama. He is kneeling in the red, striped shirt.

This just happened. #WHInstameet #selfiestick

A photo posted by Amanda Stone (@astone44) on Mar 21, 2015 at 11:55am PDT

The rooms of the White House complex hold a motley mix of styling from the ornate to the simple and efficient. We like the contrast shown in these next photos.

The photographers were able to see a level of detail to the history of the building that is seldom seen by the public, like this blessing from the second President of the United States.

This stood out because for all the opulence, the aging White House grounds require constant care. Some of these normally unseen workers have serviced the building for multiple presidents.

President Obama Attends NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Game

MIchael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images(COLLEGE PARK, Md.) — College basketball’s March Madness is here and Saturday’s matchup between Princeton and Green Bay received some special VIP attention.

President Obama and his family were in College Park, Maryland, to watch his niece, Leslie Robinson, a freshman forward for the Princeton Tigers, take on Green Bay. Robinson’s father, President Obama’s brother-in-law, Craig, is a Princeton alumnus and former college basketball coach.

After a few, nail-biting close calls, Saturday’s game concluded 80-70 in favor of Princeton, helping the team continue its perfect season with a 31-0 record. Now the Tigers will move on to face the University of Maryland.

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Rand Paul Slams Hillary Clinton over Foundation Funds from Middle East

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is calling on Hillary Clinton to return any donations the Clinton Foundation has received from Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia.

“I really think it’s unconscionable for Secretary Clinton to have accepted this money, and I think she should return it,” the Republican senator said, referring to donations from several Middle Eastern nations with unsatisfactory women’s rights records.

“I think Hillary Clinton should return the money to Saudi Arabia, Brunei, United Arab Emirates — these are all countries that abuse the rights of women,” he said.

Paul’s remarks came during a two-day trip to the important early voting state of New Hampshire.

Paul and Clinton are both rumored to be exploring runs for president in 2016, though neither have formally announced.

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Sen. Mike Enzi Highlights Proposed 2016 Budget in GOP Address

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi gave this week’s Republican address, previewing the budget proposal for the 2016 fiscal year that the Senate will vote on next week.

“Republicans have put forward a responsible plan that balances the budget in ten years with no new tax hikes, that protects our most vulnerable citizens, it strengthens our national defense, and it improves economic growth and opportunity for hardworking families,” Enzi says. The Wyoming Republican is the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and an accountant.

Enzi calls out the Obama administration for “spending more than ever and taxing more than ever.”

“Today America’s debt totals more than $18 trillion,” Enzi points out. “In fact, every man, woman, and child now owes more than $56,000 on that debt, and that number is expected to grow to more than $75,000 over the next decade unless we make important changes.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

“Hello. I’m Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming.

“I am also an accountant and chair of the Senate Budget Committee. This week we started the monumental task of confronting America’s chronic overspending; tackling our nation’s surging debt; and balancing our nation’s budget.

“Before coming to Congress, I ran a small business in Wyoming for many years, I served as a mayor of my hometown, then as a state legislator. And in those roles, one of the most important jobs I had was to ensure my budgets were balanced every year. It is time to begin this responsible accounting in Washington, because while you can lie about the numbers, the numbers never lie.

“The worst kept secret in America is: this Administration is spending more than ever and taxing more than ever. The federal government should spend your tax dollars wisely and responsibly, and give you the freedom and control to pursue your future, the way you choose.

“Hardworking taxpayers deserve a government that is more efficient, more effective, and more accountable. This should be something both parties agree on – because no one wants an inefficient, ineffective and unaccountable government.

“Runaway spending habits over the past six years have created a dangerously growing debt, because the habit of spending now and paying later is deeply ingrained.

“Federal revenues have hit record highs. Yet, we’re on track to overspend by nearly $1 trillion a year – to put that into perspective – that is $1000 billion dollars. And the more Washington overspends, the more debt we owe, and the more is added to the debt for future generations.

“Today America’s debt totals more than $18 trillion. In fact, every man, woman, and child now owes more than $56,000 on that debt, and that number is expected to grow to more than $75,000 over the next decade, unless we make important changes.

“Every dollar spent on interest and our debt is another dollar we won’t be able to use for government services for individuals in need, or another dollar that won’t be available for taxpayers for their own needs.

“It is time to stop talking and start acting. Washington must live within its means – just like every hardworking families do every day – and deliver a more effective and accountable government to the American people that supports them when it must and gets out of the way when it should.

“We didn’t get here overnight – and we won’t fix it overnight. But we can begin to solve this crisis if we act now.

“Republicans have put forward a responsible plan that balances the budget in ten years with no new tax hikes, that protects our most vulnerable citizens, it strengthens our national defense, and it improves economic growth and opportunity for hardworking families.

“A balanced budget means real accountability in Washington and ensures that programs actually accomplish what they set out to deliver.

“A balanced budget supports economic growth for hardworking families, and creates real opportunity for all Americans to grow and prosper.

“A balanced budget allows Americans to spend more time working hard to grow their businesses or advance in their jobs, instead of worrying about taxes and inefficient and ineffective regulations. It also means our job creators can find new opportunities to expand our economy, and most importantly, it means every American who wants to find a good-paying job and a fulfilling career has the opportunity to do just that.

“That’s what a balanced budget means for our nation – and it’s what the American people deserve.

“Congress is under new management and by working together to find shared ground on commonsense solutions, we can deliver real results and real progress.

“Thank you for listening.”

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Biden: House Republican Proposed Budget Would Reduce, Eliminate Programs Aimed at Helping Domestic Violence Victims

Pete Souza / The White HouseWASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden criticized the budget proposed by House Republicans on Friday while addressing the seventh biennial National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence, saying that the proposal would reduce or eliminate programs aimed at assisting female victims of domestic violence.

“You saw the debates we had about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act,” Biden said. “But wasn’t it amazing that after all these years and all the evidence presented that it’s still a debate?” He called that debate “one of the most disappointing things to me in all my years in public life.”

The Republican proposal, which would eliminate the Affordable Care Act, would also cut home visitation programs for victims and allow health insurers to consider injuries caused by abuse as previously existing conditions, Biden said. Other programs would be slashed by more than 12 percent, including subsidies to help alleviate a backlog of untested rape kits nationally.

“A budget is to reflect a country’s values and priorities,” Biden said.

“The House Republican budget — it will not pass, God willing — totally eliminates the Affordable Care Act, does not replace it with anything, and all those programs I just mentioned that benefit victimized women will be gone,” Biden concluded.

He also took to Twitter, saying that as important as it is to protect American women from violence, we must do the same for women around the world.

“As we protect women in America from violence, we have a similar obligation to end violence against women around the world.” -VP Biden

— Vice President Biden (@VP) March 20, 2015

“Our Administration will continue using the tools at our disposal to promote the human rights of women.” -Vice President Biden

— Vice President Biden (@VP) March 20, 2015

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First Lady Michelle Obama Goes on Adventures in Japan

TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) — Bentos, kimonos and drums, oh my!

Just before the cherry blossom festival in Washington, D.C., a symbol of the relationship between the U.S. and Japan, Michelle Obama made her first ever visit to the island nation.

Although the purpose of her fourth official solo trip abroad as first lady was to promote her Let Girls Learn initiative, a program aimed at training local activists and community leaders to help young women connect with education opportunities, Obama didn’t deprive herself of fun.

Over three days, Obama indulged in Japan’s rich and ancient culture. First stop, Tokyo.

Obama stepped off the plane in a vibrant green dress by Kenzo, a French fashion house founded by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada.

Konichiwa! The First Lady’s in Japan to announce a new partnership to help #LetGirlsLearn worldwide. pic.twitter.com/KB5w0a2Gcb

— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) March 18, 2015

Meeting with the Japanese First Lady

Obama met her Japanese counterpart, Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the country’s capital.

Made It to the Top of Mount Fiji…Sort Of

Then, she tweeted this amazing view from her flight to Kyoto, Japan:

Flying over Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, on the way to Kyoto. pic.twitter.com/IctrQ487R3

— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) March 20, 2015

Toured a Buddhist Temple

Accompanied by Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Obama enjoyed a breathtaking view of one of Japan’s oldest cities, Kyoto, from one of Japan’s oldest Buddhist temples, Kiyomizu-dera.

The historic temple, established in 778, is halfway up Otowa Mountain.

Taking in a beautiful view of Kyoto from the Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist Temple with @Amb_Kennedy.

A photo posted by First Lady Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on Mar 19, 2015 at 10:55pm PDT

Watched a Noh Performance

With the beautiful view of Kyoto below them, local college students had the privilege of performing for the first lady. Noh is a form of classical Japanese musical drama with elaborate costumes.

Played the Drums

Students from the Akutagawa High School Taiko Club also performed for the first lady in front of the Fushimi Inari Shinto shrine.

Taiko drumming, which includes a broad range of percussion instruments, is a popular cultural aspect of Japan.

Ordered a Bento Box

In keeping with her healthy habits, Obama breaked for a bento box — a Japanese staple for lunch — while at the Jojuin temple, which is famous for its hydrangea blooms.

Lunch time in Kyoto: A delicious and colorful bento box at the Jojuin Temple.

A photo posted by First Lady Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on Mar 19, 2015 at 11:50pm PDT

Watched a Traditional Tea Ceremony

“Finally, I got to watch — and participate in — a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in which tea is prepared and served through an elaborate series of graceful movements,” Obama wrote on her blog post on Medium. “It was magnificent.”

Here’s a White House recap of Obama’s trip to Kyoto:

Obama left Japan and arrived this morning in Cambodia. It is the first time a sitting American first lady has ever visited that country.

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POLL: The Top 15 Issues That Have Americans Worried

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The percentage of Americans who worry “a great deal” about the possibility of a terrorist attack has climbed by 12 percentage points since 2014, and has now reached 51 percent, according to a new Gallup Poll released this week.

Gallup says events like the rise of the militant group ISIS and the terrorist attack that killed several employees of a French satirical newspaper in Paris are likely responsible for the rise in concern.

Worries over the economy and the availability and affordability of health care top the list of Americans’ worries, each causing “a great deal” of concern for more than 50 percent of Americans.

Topics that worry Americans a great deal:

  • 54% – The availability and affordability of healthcare
  • 53% – The economy
  • 51% – The possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S.
  • 46% – The Social Security system
  • 46% – The size and power of the federal government
  • 46% – The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S.
  • 43% – Hunger and homelessness
  • 43% – Crime and violence
  • 39% – Illegal immigration
  • 38% – Drug use
  • 37% – Unemployment
  • 34% – The quality of the environment
  • 28% – The availability and affordability of energy
  • 28% – Race relations
  • 25% – Climate change

The uptick of 11 percentage points in Americans’ concern over race relations is likely due to the controversy surrounding the Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Despite the spike in concern, race relations was still near the bottom of the list with only 28 percent of Americans expressing concern.

The list also holds some good news. While Americans’ concern about terrorism and race relations increased, much of the recession-era worry over unemployment has dissipated. The percentage of Americans worried about unemployment fell substantially from 49 percent in 2014 to 37 percent this year. Furthermore, Gallup says that figure has not been this low since before the start of the economic recession.

Of the topics on the list, Americans are least concerned about climate change. Race relations and the availability of affordable energy fill out the rest of the bottom three. Gallup attributes this shift in worry to “amped up” conversations on racism and police brutality in some communities, combined with economic growth and lower gas prices.

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POLL: The Top 15 Issues That Have Americans Worried

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The percentage of Americans who worry “a great deal” about the possibility of a terrorist attack has climbed by 12 percentage points since 2014, and has now reached 51 percent, according to a new Gallup Poll released this week.

Gallup says events like the rise of the militant group ISIS and the terrorist attack that killed several employees of a French satirical newspaper in Paris are likely responsible for the rise in concern.

Worries over the economy and the availability and affordability of health care top the list of Americans’ worries, each causing “a great deal” of concern for more than 50 percent of Americans.

Topics that worry Americans a great deal:

  • 54% – The availability and affordability of healthcare
  • 53% – The economy
  • 51% – The possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S.
  • 46% – The Social Security system
  • 46% – The size and power of the federal government
  • 46% – The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S.
  • 43% – Hunger and homelessness
  • 43% – Crime and violence
  • 39% – Illegal immigration
  • 38% – Drug use
  • 37% – Unemployment
  • 34% – The quality of the environment
  • 28% – The availability and affordability of energy
  • 28% – Race relations
  • 25% – Climate change

The uptick of 11 percentage points in Americans’ concern over race relations is likely due to the controversy surrounding the Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Despite the spike in concern, race relations was still near the bottom of the list with only 28 percent of Americans expressing concern.

The list also holds some good news. While Americans’ concern about terrorism and race relations increased, much of the recession-era worry over unemployment has dissipated. The percentage of Americans worried about unemployment fell substantially from 49 percent in 2014 to 37 percent this year. Furthermore, Gallup says that figure has not been this low since before the start of the economic recession.

Of the topics on the list, Americans are least concerned about climate change. Race relations and the availability of affordable energy fill out the rest of the bottom three. Gallup attributes this shift in worry to “amped up” conversations on racism and police brutality in some communities, combined with economic growth and lower gas prices.

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