Review Category : Poltics

Federal Judge in Wisconsin Issues Stay, Puts Same-Sex Marriage on Hold

Hemera/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) — A federal judge in Wisconsin who struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages last week issued put those marriages on hold on Friday by issuing a stay.

Nearly 600 marriage licenses were issued in the 60 counties that allowed same-sex marriages between the ruling and the stay being issued by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb. The stay is expected to allow Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to pursue an appeal to Crabb’s earlier ruling.

In requesting the stay, Van Hollen released a statement on Monday, saying that he hoped a stay would maintain “status quo during the appeal process and [prevent] the introduction of uncertainty, inconsistency, and confusion into Wisconsin’s marriage laws.”

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Federal Judge in Wisconsin Issues Stay, Puts Same-Sex Marriage on Hold

Hemera/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) — A federal judge in Wisconsin who struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages last week issued put those marriages on hold on Friday by issuing a stay.

Nearly 600 marriage licenses were issued in the 60 counties that allowed same-sex marriages between the ruling and the stay being issued by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb. The stay is expected to allow Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to pursue an appeal to Crabb’s earlier ruling.

In requesting the stay, Van Hollen released a statement on Monday, saying that he hoped a stay would maintain “status quo during the appeal process and [prevent] the introduction of uncertainty, inconsistency, and confusion into Wisconsin’s marriage laws.”

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Hillary Clinton Has Tough Words, Tender Moments at Book Event

US State Department(WASHINGTON) — Hillary Clinton had harsh words for a few foreign leaders on Friday evening while speaking at the latest stop on her Hard Choices book tour. The sold out event at George Washington University was moderated by former Clinton speechwriter and staffer Lissa Muscatine.

Clinton criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al- Maliki following days of unrest in the region for not committing to an inclusive government in Iraq and not cooperating with the U.S. sooner.

“The underlying problem though here is not one of military preparedness or security,” Clinton said. “The problem is the conception of leadership and governance that Maliki brought to the job of prime minister.”

The former Secretary of State said a failure at the government level combined with the extraordinary success of extremist groups in Syria, particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has made the crisis “especially dangerous.”

The Iraqi government appealed to the U.S. for help but Clinton said military support should not be considered unless Maliki is presented with a set of conditions. While support, in some form, is being considered, she said that’s a difficult task because “you’d be fighting for dysfunctional, unrepresentative, authoritarian government and there’s no reason on earth that I know of that we would ever sacrifice a single American life for that.”

Friday morning, President Obama said that he would not send troops back into combat in Iraq.

When asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin, Clinton said he is more focused on extending the country’s sphere of influence than pushing forward to create a modern economy.

“He is a determined, relentless pursuer of his vision of a Russia from the past,” she said.

She continued that whatever his vision it is imperative that the U.S. and the West ensure that he does not upset the stability established after World War II and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Audience members received a signed copy of Hard Choices and Clinton assured them that she signed each herself. Given the volume, she opted for first name only. Before leaving, she shook hands and took selfies with the eager crowd. The grandmother-to-be held an audience member’s baby on stage triggering applause, laughter and photographs from spectators.

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GOP Weekly Address: Veterans Affairs Delays ‘Scream of Government Incompetency’

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Republican address, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn calls on President Obama to nominate a new Veterans Affairs Secretary to address what he deems “the myriad failings” at the agency.

Acknowledging the recent VA scandal dealing with long wait times and delays, Coburn says, “Veterans who have survived war should no longer have to do battle with bureaucracy to access the best possible care. It’s time to give our combat-impacted veterans the very best care that they have earned and deserve.”

Citing a bipartisan bill recently approved by the Senate, Coburn says passage of the legislation empowering veterans is just the beginning. The lawmaker adds that he will release an oversight report next week that “exposes a culture within the VA where vets are not always a priority and in which administrators manipulate both data and employees to give the appearance that all is well.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello. My name is Tom Coburn.

As a physician and three-time cancer survivor, I know firsthand how frustrating the wait to see a doctor can be.

The Department of Veterans Affairs admitted this week that veterans must wait up to three months to get a doctor’s appointment. These delays have been linked to unnecessary deaths and complications.

This is unacceptable. It screams of government incompetency.

But the problems at the VA are far deeper than scheduling. Getting to see a doctor, after all, does not guarantee quality care.

Just like the VA is cooking the books to make wait times appear shorter, the department is also glossing over the growing number of hospitals with poor medical outcomes.

In some locations, like Boston and Pittsburgh, VA care is top notch. At others, such as at Phoenix, it is very subpar.

High death rates and complication rates are occurring at more and more VA centers. And this information is not being shared with our veterans.

I never served in the military, but like all Americans, I have the wonderful benefit of living in a great country because of those who put on our uniform.

It is unacceptable that the men and women who bravely fought for our freedom are losing their lives, not at the hands of terrorists or enemy combatants, but from neglect by the very government agency established to take care of them.

Ironically, the vets who fought for freedom are given the least amount of freedom over their own health care decisions. Too many veterans who rely upon the VA are stuck in a bureaucratic maze that limits their choice and does not provide the quality care that they deserve.

If you are an injured combat veteran, you should be the first in line, not the last, and your access should be guaranteed to be the best possible care.

There’s a simple cure to achieve these goals: Make every hospital a VA hospital.

VA hospitals serve an important and unique role but veterans should be allowed to choose where, when and from whom they receive treatment.

If a VA center is inconveniently located, veterans should be free to choose another doctor.

This week the Senate approved a bipartisan bill to empower veterans with the freedom they deserve.

Under this plan, veterans living over 40 miles away from VA clinic would be able to receive their care somewhere closer if they so choose to do so. Those who cannot receive a timely VA appointment would automatically have the option to see another doctor outside of the VA.

Bureaucrats would no longer override veterans’ choices.

The bill also holds VA accountable by making it easier to fire anyone who falsifies or manipulates data and makes it much more transparent by requiring disclosure of medical outcomes.

Passage of this bill and new leadership at the VA are just the first steps.

Congress cannot just hope the problems will now go away.

The reason veterans’ care has suffered for so long is that Congress has failed to hold the VA accountable.

In the last four years, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has held just a handful of hearings touching on veterans’ health. This committee’s only responsibility is to ensure veterans are being taken care of and it has failed to do its job.

The problems at the VA have long been documented by government investigators who have warned of false wait times and poor management for years. But some in Congress have been far more preoccupied with making new promises rather than fulfilling the promises already made.

Next week, I will be releasing an oversight report that exposes a culture within the VA where vets are not always a priority and in which administrators manipulate both data and employees to give the appearance that all is well.

Employees who do the wrong thing are rewarded with bonuses and upstanding employees are often bullied and face retaliation.

Construction costs of medical centers run over budget and the facilities have fallen behind schedule and still lack sufficient medical personnel to provide appropriate care.

VA employees sometimes disappear from work for weeks at a time while veterans cannot get their phone calls answered or returned.

Doctors who stop taking patients just after lunch so they can leave work.

And billions of dollars that could be better spent on health care are mismanaged and wasted.

Now that the Senate has passed legislation to give veterans more health care freedom, Congress must continue to do the work to improve the quality of the VA and make it a more responsive, and accountable and efficient organization.

And the President must nominate as Secretary a capable, experienced leader who possesses the management skills, leadership ability and determination to correct the failings of the VA, support the thousands of great VA workers who are committed to serving our veterans and ensure timely quality care to all of those who have served bravely.

The President also needs to use the tools he already has to clean up the systemic failures of management in his Administration.

Veterans who have survived war should no longer have to do battle with bureaucracy to access the best possible care.

It’s time to give our combat-impacted veterans the very best care that they have earned and deserve.

The foundation of having other people serve depends on how well we take care of those that have.

May God bless you.

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President Obama’s Weekly Address: Wishing America’s Dads a Happy Father’s Day

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama wishes a happy Father’s Day to America’s dads and emphasizes the importance that fathers play in society.

The president stresses the support provided by intiatives like “My Brother’s Keeper” for those living without father figures, and highlights other actions being taken to help the nation’s families.

“We’ve still got too many workplace policies that belong in the 1950s, and it’s time to bring them up to date for today’s families, where oftentimes, both parents are working,” Obama says. “Moms and dads deserve affordable child care, and time off to care for a sick parent or child without running into hardship.”

The president will host the first-ever White House Working Families Summit in a few weeks to address such issues.

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody. Sunday is Father’s Day. If you haven’t got Dad a gift yet, there’s still time. Just barely. But the truth is, what we give our fathers can never match what our fathers give us.

I know how important it is to have a dad in your life, because I grew up without my father around. I felt the weight of his absence. So for Michelle and our girls, I try every day to be the husband and father my family didn’t have when I was young. And every chance I get, I encourage fathers to get more involved in their children’s lives, because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one.

Still, over the past couple years, I’ve met with a lot of young people who don’t have a father figure around. And while there’s nothing that can replace a parent, any of us can do our part to be a mentor, a sounding board, a role model for a kid who needs one. Earlier this year, I launched an initiative called My Brother’s Keeper – an all-hands-on-deck effort to help more of our young men reach their full potential. And if you want to be a mentor to a young man in your community, you can find out how at WhiteHouse.gov/MyBrothersKeeper.

Now, when I launched this initiative, I said that government can’t play the primary role in a young person’s life. Taking responsibility for being a great parent or mentor is a choice that we, as individuals, have to make. No government program can ever take the place of a parent’s love. Still, as a country, there are ways we can help support dads and moms who make that choice.

That’s why, earlier this week, we brought working dads from across America to the White House to talk about the challenges they face. And in a few weeks, I’ll hold the first-ever White House Working Families Summit. We’ve still got too many workplace policies that belong in the 1950s, and it’s time to bring them up to date for today’s families, where oftentimes, both parents are working. Moms and dads deserve affordable child care, and time off to care for a sick parent or child without running into hardship. Women deserve equal pay for equal work – and at a time when more women are breadwinners for a family, that benefits men, too. And because no parent who works full-time should have to raise a family in poverty, it’s time for Congress to follow the lead of state after state, get on the bandwagon, and give America a raise.

Dads work hard. So our country should do what we can to make sure their hard work pays off; to make sure life for them and their families is a little less stressful, and a little more secure, so they can be the dads their kids need them to be. Because there’s nothing more precious in life than the time we spend with our children. There’s no better feeling than knowing that we can be there for them, and provide for them, and help give them every shot at success.

Let’s make sure every dad who works hard and takes responsibility has the chance to know that feeling, not just on one Sunday, but every day of the year.

Thanks everybody, happy Father’s Day, and have a great weekend.

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George W. Bush Won’t Weigh In on Iraq

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Former President George W. Bush will make no public statement on the developing crisis in Iraq, his spokesman said Friday.

“President Bush has vowed not to criticize his successor and does not have a comment,” Freddy Ford told ABC News in a statement.

Bush spent years engaged in the war in Iraq, while President Obama campaigned against it and pulled out U.S. troops. Some Republicans have blamed Obama for the violence because they believe the troop pullout has left a security vacuum.

President Obama on Friday ruled out sending U.S. troops “back into combat” in Iraq despite the threat from a surging army of Islamic militants.

But as several cities in the once U.S.-occupied nation fall under the flags of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, Obama told reporters his National Security Council was still considering options.

“I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead,” Obama said on the White House South Lawn. “I do want to be clear, though. This is not solely, or even primarily, a military challenge.”

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Obama Brings New Promises to Native American Lands Amid Old Wounds

The White House(CANNON, N.D.) — In his first visit to Native American lands since assuming the Oval Office, President Obama on Friday pledged new initiatives he said would push economic and educational progress into a community marked by generations of crippling poverty.

“I know that throughout history the United States often did not give the nation-to-nation relationship the respect that it deserved,” the president said at a Flag Day event on the Powwow grounds of Cannon, North Dakota, adding he would remain a leader who, “honors our sacred trust, and respects your sovereignty, upholds treaty obligations, and who works with you in a spirit of true partnership and mutual respect to give our children the future that they deserve.”

Obama came to Cannon Ball, located on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, with first lady Michelle Obama and Interior Secretary Sandy Jewell to announce an overhaul of the federal agency tasked with education for 183 tribal schools across the country. But the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education has seen its pupils suffer the highest dropout rate any ethnic group in the United States.

Among the changes will be a transformation of the bureau from a direct operator of the schools to a resource provider for tribally-owned educational institutions. The plan also calls for technological modernization and a grant program for teaching certifications.

“I think we can follow the lead of Standing Rock’s most famous resident, Chief Sitting Bull,” the president continued. “He said, ‘Let’s put our minds together, to see what we can build for our children.’”

Dovetailing with the trip was an announcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that it would commit $70 million to improve housing conditions. Some $10 million is set aside for harmful mold prevention and removal, and recipients can also use their money toward infrastructure and small business projects.

“Because young people should be able to live, and work, and raise a family right here in the land of your fathers and mothers,” he told the crowd.

President Obama has only visited tribal land once before as a candidate in 2008. During that campaign Obama told members of Montana’s Crow Nation he would make that election “about Indian country,” promising to continue to heal old wounds built by centuries of federal mismanagement and widespread neglect. But it is a long hill to climb. Native Americans and Alaska Natives suffer violent crime and unemployment at a rate per capita twice that of the rest of the nation. In Cannon Ball alone, only 63 percent of able residents are working, while boarded up windows plaster some dwellings.

Alcoholism and drug abuse are significantly higher than the national average. Native American youth are nearly three times more likely to commit suicide before the age of 25 as other ethnicities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prior to his remarks the president and first lady met privately with some of those youths at a nearby elementary school.

“Some bright young people like the ones we talked to today might look around and wonder if the United States really is thinking about them, and caring about them, and has a place for them, too,” Obama admitted, adding that he and his wife understand what it was like to be, “on the outside looking in.”

“There’s no denying that for some Americans the deck’s been stacked against them. Sometimes, for generations,” he said. “But if we’re working together we can break old cycles. We can give our children a better future. I know because I’ve talked to these young people. I know they can succeed.”

Friday’s Flag Day event was organized to honor Native American veterans. It featured traditional dancing and dozens of American flags, taken from family burials of those service members.

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Raul Labrador to Run for House Majority Leader

U.S. Congress(WASHINGTON) — House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy has some new competition for Eric Cantor’s top spot: Idaho Republican Raul Labrador.

Labrador, a Tea Party favorite, is running for House Majority Leader, the lawmaker announced Friday.

“I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election earlier this week,” Labrador said in a statement. “Eric is a good friend and I have tremendous respect for him. But the message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”

The announcement comes a day after Texas Rep. Pete Sessions dropped out of the race, clearing the way for California Republican McCarthy.

“I want a House Leadership team that reflects the best of our conference. A leadership team that can bring the Republican conference together. A leadership team that can help unite and grow our party,” Labrador added. “Americans don’t believe their leaders in Washington are listening and now is the time to change that.”

The Idaho lawmaker called on Republicans to take on challenges with “new leadership” and a different approach, rallying the party around the idea that “President Obama and the Democrats have had their chance and they have failed.”

Born to a single mother in Puerto Rico, Labrador moved to the mainland at age 13. He became one of the 87 freshman Republicans elected to Congress in 2010.

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Chris Christie Talks Hillary, Cantor, ‘Dad Dancing’

Douglas Gorenstein/NBC(NEW YORK) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie paid tribute to awkward dads across the country as he danced his way through “The Evolution of Dad Dancing” in honor of Father’s Day on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Donned in stereotypical dad attire — khakis and a polo shirt — Christie grooved his way through some classic dad moves like the “The Belt Grabber” and “The Lawn Mower,” while also incorporating more daring moves into his routine, including “The Dance You Do at a Springsteen Concert” and the “I Saw This Once on Dancing With the Stars.” In an attempt to show that dancing is bipartisan, Christie and Fallon also did their best interpretations of what members of both political parties looked like when dancing at the Republican and Democratic conventions.

Saving the more controversial moves for last, Fallon closed out the dance party with a move called “This Bridge is Closed,” in allusion to the George Washington Bridge scandal that has tainted Christie’s reputation. The governor looked surprised at Fallon’s dance and jokingly walked off stage.

Following Thursday night’s dance marathon, Christie sat down with Fallon to talk politics and danced his way around questions about the possibility of a 2016 match up against Hillary Clinton.

“Hypothetically, you run for president. Hypothetically, Hillary Clinton runs for president,” Fallon said. “Hypothetically do you think you can beat her?”

“Hypothetically? You bet,” Christie responded.

“In a dance-off,” Fallon followed up after the audience applauded.

“That’s what I was talking about. What were you talking about?” Christie said.

The governor also answered questions about the state of the Republican Party following House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning primary loss in Virginia. Christie called Cantor “a friend” and stated that although his defeat was “unfortunate,” the outcome of Tuesday’s primary did not reflect the GOP on a national level leading into the midterm elections.

“I don’t think it means anything else for the rest of the country,” Christie said. “It’s about what happened in Virginia.”

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What Sen. Thad Cochran Doesn’t Know About Eric Cantor

cochran.senate.gov(WASHINGTON) — News of Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat ripped through Washington and reverberated through the halls of the Capitol.

But apparently, the news that the House majority leader had been summarily ousted by a political unknown didn’t quite capture six-term GOP Sen. Thad Cochran’s attention.

In an interview on Fox News, Cochran, a Republican running for re-election in Mississippi, appeared flummoxed by the political shakeup.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the senator, 76, said when asked about Cantor’s loss. “What happened in Virginia?”

“With Eric Cantor losing his seat,” the interviewer prompted.

“Well, I haven’t really followed that campaign very closely at all,” Cochran responded.

“Eric Cantor lost his seat as the majority leader,” the interviewer said.

“Yeah, well, that happens,” Cochran said. “You know, members of Congress, some win, some lose.”

Cochran’s comments were confusing because he was asked about Cantor’s fall and answered quite clearly on Wednesday, the day after the election.

“I, like a lot of people, were surprised by the margin of victory for his opponent, but that happens in politics,” Cochran told Mississippi News Now.

The senator’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment Friday, but his campaign struck back on Twitter, writing: “The @FoxNews report about Thad re: Cantor is directly contradicted by stories from two of the largest media outlets in MS…”

The Fox interview isn’t the only time Cochran has seemed a little vague.

When asked in May about the Affordable Care Act, Cochran, who almost always advocates for repeal, seemed to have a positive view of the president’s signature initiative, calling Obamacare “an important effort by the federal government to help make health care available, accessible, and affordable.”

“I’m glad to be involved in that effort,” he told the Washington Post‘s Dan Balz. (A short time later, an aide reportedly called Balz to clarify that Cochran thought the question was about the VA.)

Cochran also seemed a bit off his game in an interview with The Atlantic‘s Molly Ball.

“My question was simple, but it wasn’t clear Senator Thad Cochran had any idea what I was talking about,” Ball observed.

When asked about why Mississippi needed him in the Senate, Cochran briefly mentioned his history in the House and Senate, then about maintaining a working relationship with the international community.

Later, Cochran reportedly seemed not to recognize Ball, re-introducing himself to the journalist less than 30 minutes after their interview had concluded.

The six-term senator, who recently told the Washington Post he considered retiring but relented after his constituents pleaded with him to stay, has reportedly been ducking media interviews.

He’s running against Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator who forced Cochran into a runoff by clinching 49.5 percent of the vote to the incumbent’s 49 percent.

Already contentious, the race got even nastier when one of McDaniel’s supporters snuck into a nursing home to photograph Cochran’s wife, who suffers from dementia. (McDaniel denied involvement in the incident.)

Despite his numerous gaffes, Cochran has been able to attract some high-profile supporters — from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave Cochran’s super PAC Mississippi Conservatives $250,000 last month.

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