Review Category : Poltics

Meet the Koala Posing with President Obama at G-20 Summit

Photo by Andrew Taylor/G20 Australia via Getty Images(BRISBANE, Australia) — President Obama, Jimbelung. Jimbelung, President Obama.

That’s the name of the 2-year-old koala bear who cozied up to the president Saturday while at the G-20 summit in Australia.

The wide-eyed koala munched on eucalyptus and posed with Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama, but grew too tired for pictures with the media, according to her handler.

She made an exception when the premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, showed up with outstretched arms.

Jimbelung, which means “friend” in Japanese, is scheduled to move from a wildlife park in Brisbane to Japan as a gift.

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Why Congressman Had Grim Crucifixion Posters on House Floor

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — On a typical Friday afternoon in the House of Representatives, it’s not an uncommon sight to see Rep. Louie Gohmert make his way to the floor to the floor to speak out during special order speeches – an open mic opportunity of sorts for lawmakers to speak out on any issue they desire after the body concludes the day’s legislative business.

When Gohmert took to the well of the chamber and a congressional aide set up some two easels on Friday featuring grim photos of people who had been crucified, the conservative firebrand from Texas quickly captured the attention of the chamber.

He began his 40 minute speech by talking about how the House had just passed a vote to authorize construction on the Keystone Pipeline, but Gohmert soon revealed why he was standing in front of two large black and white photos depicting crucifixions.

“To many people, dates mean things. My anniversary means a lot. I’ve never forgotten one. Our birthdays mean a lot to most Westerners,” Gohmert, R-Texas said. “Some of us try to forget them, but major dates in Caliphate history mean a great deal to radical Islamists.”

Gohmert then expressed skepticism over a Muslim prayer service scheduled to be held that day for the first time at the National Cathedral in Washington. Gohmert claimed the day was the 100th anniversary of the last sitting Caliph of the Ottoman Empire’s call for jihad against non-believers, which Gohmert said was a “catalyst which led to religiously-fueled genocide against Christian Armenians and Assyrians.”

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Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey Makes Unannounced Trip to Iraq

US JCS(BAGHDAD, Iraq) — U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Baghdad on Saturday to engage Iraqi and U.S. officials on the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The trip was unannounced, the Department of Defense said. It came just two days after Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the progress of the campaign against ISIS. During that testimony, Dempsey said that the aim of the anti-ISIS fight is “Iraq first,” not “Iraq only.”

Dempsey also told Congress on Thursday that the U.S. could consider sending American troops to fight with Iraqi soldiers against ISIS.

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GOP Address: Rep. Wenstrup On What to ‘Expect From the New Republican Majority’ — In this week’s GOP address, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) outlines steps Republicans are taking in Congress.

Wenstrup looks at specific cases, including the Keystone XL pipeline, the Hire More Heroes Act, and ObamaCare.

You deserve a government that doesn’t just ‘hear you,’ but actually listens to you and puts your priorities first – that focuses on securing more jobs and a better future for our children,” Wenstrup says. “That’s what you can expect from the new Republican majority.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Good morning, I’m Dr. Brad Wenstrup, and I have the honor of representing Ohio’s Second Congressional District.

In the days since the election, Republicans have begun to make good on our vow to honor your trust by focusing first on jobs and the economy.

On Friday, the House voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which will help lower energy costs and get people back to work. We ask President Obama and Senate Democrats to finally give this project the green light that the American people have been waiting for.

We’ll also work to pass the Hire More Heroes Act, which will encourage businesses large and small to hire America’s veterans – the very Americans to which we owe our security and freedom.

We’ll take on ObamaCare… and we’ll propose that Congress – not the bureaucrats – has the final say on all new major regulations.

This is just a start on getting some important things done in the months ahead.

Now, after the election, the president may have said “I hear you,” but by the looks of things, it’s just the opposite.

On Monday, he proposed a new set of rules to regulate – of all things – the Internet, one of the few places innovation has thrived, even in a struggling economy.

Then he agreed with the Chinese government on rules that continue his misguided crusade against affordable, reliable energy. In this economy, we need relief from the EPA’s grip, not more heavy-handed mandates that take away American jobs and squeeze middle-class families.

The president also continues to raise the possibility of taking unilateral action on executive amnesty. We’ve warned him that such action would make it that much harder to pass immigration reform and find common ground.

Sadly, there’s even more.

We’ve now come to learn that one of ObamaCare’s architects said the law passed because Americans were “too stupid to know” what was happening.

This is the same arrogance we’ve seen time and time again from this administration and its allies. This is insulting to all of us.

They say one thing and do another. They spend money we don’t have – with little to show for it but more debt and broken promises. And they stay off course – even when hardworking people are stuck earning less and paying more for just about everything.

Americans deserve far better.

You deserve a government that doesn’t just “hear you,” but actually listens to you and puts your priorities first – that focuses on securing more jobs and a better future for our children.

That’s what you can expect from the new Republican majority.

Thank you for listening, and God bless the United States of America.

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Three Congressional Races That Still Don’t Have a Winner

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — With House freshmen reporting to Washington this week for orientation, three Congressional races from last week still remain too close to call.

In Arizona, Gabby Giffords’ former seat is still up for grabs, with the re-match between endangered Democrat Rep. Ron Barber and Republican former Air Force Col. Martha McSally now moving to a recount.

Two California districts that have dealt with severe droughts are still waiting for races to be called, both including fierce challenges from Republicans against incumbents.

It all means the Republican wave this election may still be able to nab three more seats before the end of this week.

Here’s a look at where the races stand:

Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District: Ron Barber vs. Martha McSally

All the votes have been counted in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, but the battle is still on between Democratic Rep. Ron Barber and Republican challenger Martha McSally. It’s been one of the most closely watched House races this midterm election, in no small part because of the razor-thin margin the congressman won by in his 2012 matchup with McSally. But the less-than-2,500 vote edge he had in that victory seemed stout compared to the final vote count in the rematch this year. The election results placed McSally ahead by just 161 votes. According to Arizona law, a candidate must win by a margin of .10 percent. McSally held a .08 percent edge over her opponent, setting the stage for the state’s first automatic recount in a congressional election and its closest race in history. According to the Arizona secretary of state’s office, the recount will not begin until at least Dec. 1.

California’s 7th Congressional District: Ami Bera vs. Doug Ose

California’s 7th Congressional District isn’t new to nail-biters: Rep. Ami Bera, a Democrat, won a tight race against Republican incumbent Dan Lungren just two years ago. Before the 2012 election, the 7th District was rearranged to fit the Sacramento suburbs more neatly into its territory, meaning Bera could take advantage of a more liberal populace. But this year, Republican challenger and former Rep. Doug Ose fought tooth and nail to retake the seat for the GOP. What could explain the dead heat? Ose’s former district now makes up 70 percent of the 7th District, meaning the gerrymandering that once helped Bera was now benefitting Ose. As of Wednesday, Bera held a 711-vote lead over Ose, leaving the race too close to call as provisional ballots were still being counted.

California 16th Congressional District: Jim Costa vs. Johnny Tacherra

In California’s heavily Hispanic and agriculture-driven 16th Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Jim Costa holds onto just a 75-vote lead over Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra. The Fresno Bee reported that another updated vote count was expected today. Tacherra’s competitiveness in the race gave him enough confidence to fly to Washington this week to attend congressional orientation for new members despite knowing he could actually lose his race. According to the National Review, Tacherra decided to run against Costa after a tense meeting with him in his Capitol Hill office regarding droughts in their district, a contentious issue in a growing number of California elections. A third-generation dairy farmer, Tacherra ran the close campaign with just a single staffer whom he paid $500 a month.

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Seasoned Senators Dole Out Advice for Newbies on Capitol Hill

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Everyone’s a newbie at some point in their Senate career. After years on Capitol Hill, senators have come to learn a thing or two about surviving in the halls of Congress. As 12 senators-elect learned their way around the halls of the Senate this week during freshman orientation, several senators told ABC News some of the advice they wish they had when they started in the Senate.

“Have fun, think before you speak, and speak as often as you feel in your mind and heart that you have something to say,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said.

“You need to hire people you trust and know that there’s a difference between campaign and governing, and you hire people with that in mind,” Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., gave the newbie senators a book called The American Senate, to provide the incoming senators with a history of the upper chamber, Montana’s senator-elect Steve Daines told ABC News.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had some advice on office space to help new lawmakers avoid working in a “dungeon”-like space.

“Try to be fortunate so that you don’t get in the basement of the Russell building where I had to spend the time in my first years here in the Senate,” McCain said. “It’s very nice down here, but it sometimes resembles living in a dungeon.”

And Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., put his advice bluntly: “Try to avoid mistakes.”

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House Democrats Deny Pregnant Proxy Vote in Leadership Elections

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Democrats promote absentee ballots, early voting and removing barriers and obstacles from the polls — except in House leadership races apparently.

House Democrats rejected their pregnant colleague’s plea to submit proxy votes in the House Democratic Caucus’ leadership and committee elections next week. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled war veteran who is due to have her first child in December, is missing the elections in person next week because her physician advised her not to travel.

While proxy voting is explicitly against caucus rules, Duckworth, who had both of her legs amputated when the helicopter she was flying was shot down in Iraq, wrote a letter from Illinois to request a waiver due to her extraordinary circumstances. Democrats are scheduled to vote on their leadership team via secret ballot next Tuesday and are also expected to decide senior committee assignments next week.

The drama played out at a closed-door meeting Thursday, when Duckworth’s request was debated before the caucus.

Democrats like Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the co-chair of the Democrat Steering and Policy Committee, cautioned colleagues against setting a new precedent for the secret ballot elections.

But Rep. Jan Schakowsky, vice-chair of the steering and policy committee and one of Duckworth’s colleagues from Illinois, made a motion to permit a concession to Duckworth, whose letter was read to the caucus.

“I write to request your assistance regarding upcoming votes four our Caucus,” her letter stated, according to the National Journal. “As you are aware, I am in the final weeks of my pregnancy, and have been instructed by my physician not to travel. As a result, I will not be attending the upcoming Caucus meetings in person.”

“I would like to request a proxy vote on the upcoming leadership and ranking member elections that will come before the Caucus in the coming weeks,” she continued.

According to a Democratic aide in the room during the debate, a pivotal moment came when Rep. Gwen Moore spoke out to ask whether she could proxy vote as well because she plans to attend a funeral in Wisconsin next Tuesday.

Moore’s request soured the mood of the room against Duckworth’s motion, the aide said, “with Members realizing the slippery slope argument that others had made.” Schakowsky then pulled her motion for Duckworth.

A Democratic source admitted Duckworth’s situation was “a very meritorious case,” but in the end “the slippery slope argument prevailed” because “there’s no practical way to do secret balloting remotely.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was believed to have opposed the request, purportedly in part over a contentious race for the top Democratic position on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. Pelosi has a large stake in that behind-the-scenes party battle and did not speak out in Duckworth’s favor at the meeting.

Pelosi has repeatedly urged her colleagues to support Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, while Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 ranked Democrat, is putting his weight behind Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey. Duckworth also supports Pallone, raising questions about whether Pelosi is in effect blocking a vote against her fellow Californian.

Pelosi’s office refused to comment on the record. A spokesman to Pelosi emphasized that the caucus has not permitted proxy voting for as long as they have records, dating back more than four decades.

In a statement provided to ABC News, Duckworth seems to have come to terms with the decision.

“I submitted a request to the Caucus to allow for a proxy vote due to my pregnancy,” Duckworth wrote in the statement. “The Caucus chose not to allow me to vote via proxy. I respect the process and very much appreciated my colleagues who made sure my request was considered.”

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Battle of the Ballots Continues in Arizona House Race

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — All the votes have been counted in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional district, but the battle is still on between Democratic Rep. Ron Barber and Republican challenger Martha McSally.

It’s been one of the most closely watched House races this midterm election, and in no small part due to the razor-thin margin the congressman won by in 2012. But the less than 2,500 more votes he had in that victory seems stout compared to the final vote count in their rematch this year.

The election results place McSally ahead by just 161 votes. According to Arizona law, a candidate must win by a margin of .10 percent. McSally holds a .08 percent edge over her opponent, setting the stage for automatic recount — the state’s first recount in a congressional election, and its closest race in history.

According to the Arizona secretary of state’s office, the recount will not commence until at least Dec. 1. But that didn’t stop McSally from declaring victory: She jetted to Washington, D.C. on Thursday and will have her first full day of House freshman orientation on Friday.

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Hagel Acknowledges Long Fight Ahead Against Islamic State

Junko Kimura/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee Thursday that the U.S.-led coalition effort in Iraq to defeat Islamic State militants will be “a long and difficult struggle.”

Hagel, who refers to the Sunni extremist group as ISIL as does the rest of the Obama administration, maintained that while progress has been made since August, the campaign is only “three months into a multi-year effort.”

According to the defense chief, the group’s advance has been stalled and at times reversed in some regions through the efforts of coalition air power along with ground troops made up of Iraqi, Kurdish and tribal forces.

However, Hagel conceded that the Islamic State remains a “serious threat” to American interests.

Last week, President Obama announced the deployment of an additional 1,500 U.S. troops to act in training and advisory roles. The White House is insistent that American soldiers will not lead the fight against the Islamic State.

Yet, House Armed Services chair Buck McKeon suggested that this policy won’t be effective in defeating the group.

The California Republican asked, “How can you successfully execute the mission you’ve been given — to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIL — when some of your best options are taken off the table?”

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would not commit to putting American boots on the ground but did say there has been at least some consideration regarding accompanying Iraqi units in their battle against the Islamic State.

The appearance by Hagel and Dempsey was also to ask Congress for $5.6 billion in extra military funding for fighting ISIS in 2015 and a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

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Report: Obama’s Proposed Order on Immigration Keeps Millions in US

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The New York Times reported Thursday that President Obama is nearing a decision on an executive order that would prevent the deportation of as many as five million undocumented immigrants, quoting administration officials familiar with the plan.

Such a move would likely enrage congressional Republicans. Even before the Times article came out, House Speaker John Boehner said if the president acts unilaterally to revamp the immigration system, it would “jeopardize other issues as well.”

Nonetheless, the president appears determined to act with immigration reform stalled for a year-and-a-half after the Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June 2013 that has languished in the GOP-controlled House.

According to the Times, Obama’s directive would allow many undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits, provided their children are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants.

Furthermore, the executive order would also refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents, the Times reports.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies would step up deportations of known criminals, people considered national security threats and others who try to cross over the southern border into the U.S.

The president’s executive order is still subject to change, sources told the Times, but Obama is determined to issue the directive before the end of 2014.

Although Hispanic groups and liberal Democrats will no doubt praise the plan that will make millions unafraid of coming out in the open, Obama runs the risk of sabotaging already delicate year-end budget negotiations and perhaps even kill the nomination of Loretta E. Lynch to become the next U.S. attorney general.

Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama are already in the throes of threatening to kill budget talks unless the president backs off from what they claim is “executive amnesty” for people they view as lawbreakers.

Meanwhile, ABC News reports that the president will arrive at a decision on what the plan will entail next week but it remains unclear when he will sign an executive order to implement immigration reform.

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