iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — You think you got problems? America is loaded with them, at least according to respondents of a Gallup poll of the public’s most pressing concerns with the U.S.

Topping the list of chief concerns at 18 percent is the government, a category that includes congress and politicians, with the economy right behind at 17 percent.

Unemployment and job worries are next at 15 percent with Americans fretting about health care at 10 percent.

Among the other concerns making the survey of 1,000 adults were immigration, the federal deficit, a decline in ethics, education and poverty.

The economy was the number one problem from 2008 to 2013. Before that, Iraq was the chief concern of Americans from 2004 to 2007.

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US Congress(CORAL GABLES, Fla.) — Edward Brooke, the first African-American to be elected to the U.S. Senate, died Saturday of natural causes in Coral Gables, Florida. He was 95.

Although two blacks had served in the Senate during the 19th century, they had been both appointed to their seats by the Mississippi state legislature.

Brooke, a lifelong Republican, was elected junior senator from Massachusetts in 1966 and served two terms. Considered a liberal Republican, Brooke later acknowledged that he was neither approached by conservative members of his party nor Southern Democratic senators.

A World War II Army veteran, Brooke earned a law degree from Boston University and opened his own practice. He ran unsuccessfully for public office several times before being elected Massachusetts state attorney general in 1962.

Since Brooke left the Senate in 1979, only two other blacks have been elected to the chamber: Carol Moseley Braun from California in 1992 and Barack Obama from Illinois in 2004, both Democrats.

Married twice, Brooke had three children.

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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Representative-elect Mia Love, R-Utah, the first black woman elected to Congress as a Republican and one of the GOP’s 74 fresh faces scheduled to be sworn in on Tuesday, says that despite the controversy surrounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Lousiana, she thinks he should remain a leader to the newly reinvigorated party.

The third-highest ranked Republican in the House of Representatives, Scalise came under fire last week after he reportedly attended a civil rights workshop organized by a group of alleged white supremacists in 2002.

Of note among the organizers was David Duke, the then-president of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) and former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan grand wizard

When asked by ABC’s Martha Raddatz Sunday on This Week what her initial reaction to the news was, Love said, “My first thoughts [were] this is 12 years ago. It’s interesting that it’s coming up now… I found that really interesting.”

Love called the groups “awful,” and the last thing she would want is to give them any sort of publicity or credibility by discussing them. Instead, Love focused on expressing her support for her GOP compatriot Scalise, who she says has aided in her transition to Congress.

“I can say, as far as I’m concerned, with Rep. Scalise, he has been absolutely wonderful to work with. He’s been very helpful for me and he has had the support of his colleagues,” she said.

But with the GOP’s congressional takeover set to officially begin this week, many have voiced concerns that starting off the new Congress with scandal-embroiled Scalise in leadership could derail a successful kick-off to the party’s new reign, and undermine the new Republican identity. Mia Love isn’t one of them.

“I believe he should remain in leadership. There’s one quality that he has that I think is very important in leadership, and that’s humility. And he’s actually shown that in this case,” she said.

“He’s apologized, and I think that we need to move on and get the work of the American people done,” Love later added.

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Steve Jennings/WireImage(HONOLULU) — President Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia paid a surprise Saturday afternoon visit to the Kailua home of Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder. The Obamas and Vedder are relative neighbors on Oahu, since the first family also rents a place nearby on the north shore.

Vedder was a prominent supporter of Obama’s two election campaigns. In September 2012, he headlined a $20,000-per-person fundraiser in Tampa, Fla., which the president attended and helped raise close to $2 million.

After Vedder performed an acoustic set at the event, he famously broke out a Hawaiian-made ukulele and joked, “It’s got a little birth certificate right in there!” – a reference to those widely refuted claims that Obama was born overseas.

The White House did not allow press coverage of the visit.

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Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Mike Huckabee announced Saturday night that he is leaving Fox News as he weighs a potential presidential run in 2016 saying, “As much as I have loved doing the show, I cannot bring myself to rule out another presidential run.”

“Oh be clear, I’m not making that announcement right now and my timetable is still just what wait was before, later this spring, but I agree with Fox this is the right thing and now is the right time,” he said.

The former Arkansas governor and television personality made the announcement on his Saturday evening show, Huckabee, and told his viewers “If I were willing to absolutely rule out” a presidential run “I could keep doing this show, but I can’t make such a declaration.”

He said he won’t “make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015.”

He said he’s not going to “disappear” and said he “hope(s)” to make guest appearances on Fox News, but “not as staff.”

He also thanked his viewers, show staff, and Fox News chairman Roger Ailes for what he called the “ride of a lifetime.”

Huckabee initially made the announcement on his Facebook page earlier this evening, saying he was leaving his show so he can “openly talk with potential donors and supporters and gauge support.”

“There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for president … the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them,” Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page. “The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox so I can openly talk with potential donors and supporters and gauge support.

“I feel compelled to ascertain if the support exists strongly enough for another presidential run. So as we say in television, stay tuned!” he added.

A spokesperson for Fox News confirmed Huckabee’s departure from the network was amicable

Huckabee’s decision to leave Fox News, where he hosts a popular weekend evening program, gives him the flexibility to speak with donors and more seriously weigh a presidential run.

Huckabee joined Fox News in 2008, months after his first presidential campaign ended. Huckabee secured an early victory in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 before bowing out of the Republican presidential primary in March of that year.

Huckabee has plans to be in the presidential testing grounds of Iowa later this month. He is scheduled to speak at the Rep. Steve King and Citizens United-sponsored event, the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24 in Des Moines. A day later, he is scheduled to be in Cedar Rapids for an event on his book tour.

In May 2011 he also teased an announcement on his Saturday evening program, but that time he announced he would not be entering the 2012 presidential race saying, “All the factors say go, but my heart says no.”

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Photo By Dirck Halstead/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday announced that it would not pursue charges against John Hinckley for his role in the death of Ronald Reagan’s Press Secretary James Brady.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley attempted to assassinate Reagan, shooting the then-president, Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Metropoloitan Police Department officer in the driveway of the Washington Hilton Hotel. All four victims survived the shooting, however, Brady suffered a bullet to the brain and “remained incapacitated by that injury for the rest of his life,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Brady died on Aug. 4, 2014. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia deemed Brady’s death a homicide caused by the 1981 gunshot wound. Specifically, the medical examiner deemed that the traumatic brain injury caused difficulty for Brady to manage oral secretions and food, leading to aspiration pneumonia and other chronic diseases. That decision prompted the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s review.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office notes that any prosecution of Hinckley linked to the 1981 shooting would be in vain, as Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1981. Thus, Hinckley would be entitled to the same verdict. Additionally, the legislation at the time of the shooting mandated that homicide prosecution could only be leveled if the victim died within one year and one day of the injury causing death.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Brady and his wife worked with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Hinckley has been committed at St. Elizabeths Hospital for 32 years.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s address, Vice President Joe Biden outlines the Affordable Care Act.

Biden says getting health insurance through the Affordable Care Act gives Americans freedom, choice, and opportunity.

“We have finally ended the debate in this country of whether or not health insurance is a right or a privilege,” Biden says. “We think everyone in America has a right to have adequate health care insurance. And the Affordable Care Act gives them that right.”

You can sign up for the Affordable Care Act through February 15.

Read the full transcript of the vice president’s address:

Hello everyone, this is Joe Biden. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year.

I know this is the time of year when we make resolutions to take care of our health, whether it’s joining a gym or eating healthier. But there’s one thing you can do right now that will also make a big difference in your health: that is getting quality, affordable health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Because of that law, access to quality health care is improving. Last year, almost 7 million people signed up for health care coverage under the new law and paid their premiums. And in many cases the cost of health care is less than the cost of your cell phone or your cable bill. In addition, millions more are getting the care that they need through Medicaid that they weren’t getting before.

And because of the new law, people who already had health insurance are also benefitting from additional protections. For example, their insurance companies can’t deny them coverage because of pre-existing conditions, like asthma or diabetes. And they’re able to get – for free – preventive services like mammograms or blood pressure screenings that their doctors ordered for them, saving them a lot of money.

Everyone is beginning to realize what millions of you already know – the Affordable Care Act is working. And we’re just getting started. Because there are millions more of you who can get quality, affordable health care if you sign up before February 15th of this year. That’s now through February 15th.

Now if you don’t have insurance, you can go to HealthCare.gov, where you’ll find a menu of a bunch of different plans and what each plan covers and how much each plan costs. All you have to do is just pick one. The best one that fits your family’s health care needs and your family’s budget.

If you don’t want to go to HealthCare.gov and you want to talk to somebody on the phone instead, you can call, I’m going to give you the number now, you can call 1-800-318-2596. From this moment on, you can call any time of the day, any day of the week. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And for folks listening today whose family and friends may not speak English: let them know that there are translators available in over 150 language to guide them through the process.

And if you’re not comfortable going online or speaking on the phone, and you want to sit down with an individual to help you through this, you can find out where to go as well. Because in every community, at local libraries or community health centers, people are there to help. All you have to do is go on HealthCare.gov, type in where you live, and you can find out exactly where to go to sit down with a person who will help you walk through the process.

But here’s the really important point I want to make. If you don’t sign up by February 15th of this year – with only a very few exceptions – if you don’t sign up by the 15th of this year, you’re going to have to wait until 2016 to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

And even those of you who already have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, you can also go on HealthCare.gov to find a plan that might offer more benefits or be more affordable in price for you. You might even qualify for additional help paying for the insurance you choose because your income isn’t what it was last year.

Now I’m sure some of you already heard from your friends and neighbors who’ve signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act what I hear all around the country. I hear it provides peace of mind that someone you love will be covered if God-forbid something happens. It provides security, so if you have a bad strain in your ankle or your back and you don’t have the money to get treatment, you can now get the treatment rather than wait, put it off, and end up with a chronic condition. And it provides a lot of freedom, and choice, and opportunity – so you can switch jobs or move to another city without the fear that you’ll lose out on the health insurance with the company you now have it with. And what I’m hearing most is how pleased and excited people are about how affordable it is.

An awful lot of people who didn’t think they could or would find quality, affordable health insurance are actually able to get assistance from the government to help them pay for their health care plans at a cheaper rate. Let me give you an example. A family of four with an income of around $95,000, they can still get a subsidy to lower their health care premiums.

But maybe most importantly, what I hear is that we have finally ended the debate in this country of whether or not health insurance is a right or a privilege. We think everyone in America has a right to have adequate health care insurance. And the Affordable Care Act gives them that right.

So sign up. And spread the word. Protect your health – not only for your sake, but for the sake of your families.

Thanks for listening, and Jill and I wish you again a happy and healthy New Year. God bless you, and may God protect our troops.

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Republican Address, Congressman Rodney Davis from Illinois talks about a bill he has sponsored, the Hire More Heroes Act.

Davis says the Hire More Heroes Act “makes a commonsense change to the president’s health care law that will encourage small businesses to hire more of our nation’s veterans.”

He adds, “As more and more of these men and women return home, the Hire More Heroes Act will give them a better chance in a still-tough job market. The Hire More Heroes Act is an example of the kind of bipartisan jobs bills the House will be bringing up on your behalf.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Happy New Year, everyone. I’m Congressman Rodney Davis from the great state of Illinois. I’m honored to be speaking with you from Springfield, the home and resting place of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln.

On Tuesday, we begin a new Congress, and that means a new start on the people’s business. If we work together, we have a great opportunity to grow our economy and put our nation on solid footing for a bright future. That’s why the House will start off with jobs bills that have bipartisan support but were never considered by a Democratic-run Senate.

One of those initiatives is a bill I’ve sponsored called the Hire More Heroes Act. What this bill does: it makes a commonsense change to the president’s health care law that will encourage small businesses to hire more of our nation’s veterans.

You see, one problem with the health care law – one of many – is that because of its costs and mandates, small businesses face higher costs and have to hold off on hiring. When small businesses – the engine of our economy – can’t hire, we can’t move forward.

That’s where the Hire More Heroes Act comes in. This bill exempts veterans already enrolled in healthcare plans through the Department of Defense or the VA from being counted toward the employee limit under the health care law.

So not only are we providing small businesses – and our economy – with much-needed relief, but we’re also helping more of our veterans find work. Because despite receiving the best training in the world, post-9/11 veterans are consistently faced with higher unemployment rates than that of other veterans. As more and more of these men and women return home, the Hire More Heroes Act will give them a better chance in a still-tough job market.

The Hire More Heroes Act is an example of the kind of bipartisan jobs bills the House will be bringing up on your behalf. In the coming days, the House will also act on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and to restore the 40-hour workweek for middle class families.

From there, more good ideas for jobs and growth will follow. If the president is willing to work with us, we’ll have a real chance to address our nation’s most pressing challenges.

There’s one more thing I want to tell you about the Hire More Heroes Act. This idea didn’t come from Washington; it came from right here in Illinois. Brad Lavite, the superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission in Madison County came to me after seeing how unemployed veterans and servicemembers were having a difficult time navigating the new health care law. Then we got started on this and other ideas to help

Listening to the people and making your priorities our priorities: that’s what you can expect from this new American Congress. If we all unite and work together, 2015 will be a great year for our country.

For now, thank you for listening. God bless all our veterans and servicemembers, and God bless the United States of America.

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(NEW YORK) — An online petition to put an Ohio transgender teen’s chosen female name on her tombstone has gained 71,000 supporters, even as the teen’s mother says she never heard of that name until after the child’s death.

The teen’s parents have said in limited media interviews that they loved and mourn their child, though they continue to refer to her using male birth name and male pronouns, practices that have angered activists.

Leelah Alcorn, who was born Joshua Alcorn, according to police, died Sunday after being hit by a tractor-trailer in a suburb of Cincinnati. Her death sparked outrage after a note she reportedly left behind claimed that her parents would not accept her as she was.

Officers from the Ohio Highway Patrol told ABC News they were investigating the death as a suicide.

They were also looking into the note left behind by the 17-year-old that had been scheduled to post on Tumblr after the teen died. In the note, Alcorn reportedly lashed out against her parents as well as society.

“The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in,” she wrote, “because I’m transgender.”

She said that she felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body and that her family “wanted me to be their perfect little straight Christian boy.”

Alcorn’s mother, Carla Alcorn, posted on Facebook that Alcorn was killed while out for a walk, according to ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV, while making no mention of suicide.

“My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning,” wrote Carla Alcorn on Facebook, according to WCPO. “He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

Alcorn’s parents did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News Friday, and reportedly declined to speak directly with WCPO.

However, the teen’s father, Doug Alcorn, sent an email to the station.

“We love our son, Joshua, very much and are devastated by his death,” the email said, according to WCPO. “We have no desire to enter into a political storm or debate with people who did not know him. We wish to grieve in private. We harbor no ill will towards anyone. … I simply do not wish our words to be used against us.”

Carla Alcorn told CNN that she and her husband objected to their child living as a girl on religious grounds, “but we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”

She said her child only discussed being transgender with her once, that she declined a request for transition surgery because “we didn’t have the money for anything like that,” and that she never saw the name Leelah until the purported suicide note.

“He never said that name before,” she told CNN.

However, after Alcorn’s note went viral, transgender people began describing their lives using Twitter hashtag, #RealLiveTransAdult, for messages of hope, support, inspiration and offers of mentorship for trans teens.

Alcorn’s death also grabbed the attention of celebrities and activists, some tweeting in memoriam, with support for the teen.

Fly free, baby girl #LeelahAlcorn #LGBTQ #EQUALITYNOW

— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) December 31, 2014

Others, meanwhile, were angry and critical of Alcorn’s parents.

Dan Savage, the founder of It Gets Better, a video movement intended to inspire lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans teens facing harassment, argued on Twitter that her parents should be charged with child abuse.

#LeelahAlcorn‘s parents threw her in front of that truck. They should be ashamed—but 1st they need to be shamed. Charges should be brought.

— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 31, 2014

In Alcorn’s final post on her Tumblr, she wrote that she wanted her death to “mean something.”

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was,” she wrote in her note.

In her hometown of Kings Mill, Ohio, friends and supporters of Alcorn planned to hold a candlelight vigil Saturday.

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(NEW YORK) — An online petition to put an Ohio transgender teen’s chosen female name on her tombstone has gained 71,000 supporters, even as the teen’s mother says she never heard of that name until after the child’s death.

The teen’s parents have said in limited media interviews that they loved and mourn their child, though they continue to refer to her using male birth name and male pronouns, practices that have angered activists.

Leelah Alcorn, who was born Joshua Alcorn, according to police, died Sunday after being hit by a tractor-trailer in a suburb of Cincinnati. Her death sparked outrage after a note she reportedly left behind claimed that her parents would not accept her as she was.

Officers from the Ohio Highway Patrol told ABC News they were investigating the death as a suicide.

They were also looking into the note left behind by the 17-year-old that had been scheduled to post on Tumblr after the teen died. In the note, Alcorn reportedly lashed out against her parents as well as society.

“The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in,” she wrote, “because I’m transgender.”

She said that she felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body and that her family “wanted me to be their perfect little straight Christian boy.”

Alcorn’s mother, Carla Alcorn, posted on Facebook that Alcorn was killed while out for a walk, according to ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV, while making no mention of suicide.

“My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning,” wrote Carla Alcorn on Facebook, according to WCPO. “He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

Alcorn’s parents did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News Friday, and reportedly declined to speak directly with WCPO.

However, the teen’s father, Doug Alcorn, sent an email to the station.

“We love our son, Joshua, very much and are devastated by his death,” the email said, according to WCPO. “We have no desire to enter into a political storm or debate with people who did not know him. We wish to grieve in private. We harbor no ill will towards anyone. … I simply do not wish our words to be used against us.”

Carla Alcorn told CNN that she and her husband objected to their child living as a girl on religious grounds, “but we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”

She said her child only discussed being transgender with her once, that she declined a request for transition surgery because “we didn’t have the money for anything like that,” and that she never saw the name Leelah until the purported suicide note.

“He never said that name before,” she told CNN.

However, after Alcorn’s note went viral, transgender people began describing their lives using Twitter hashtag, #RealLiveTransAdult, for messages of hope, support, inspiration and offers of mentorship for trans teens.

Alcorn’s death also grabbed the attention of celebrities and activists, some tweeting in memoriam, with support for the teen.

Fly free, baby girl #LeelahAlcorn #LGBTQ #EQUALITYNOW

— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) December 31, 2014

Others, meanwhile, were angry and critical of Alcorn’s parents.

Dan Savage, the founder of It Gets Better, a video movement intended to inspire lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans teens facing harassment, argued on Twitter that her parents should be charged with child abuse.

#LeelahAlcorn‘s parents threw her in front of that truck. They should be ashamed—but 1st they need to be shamed. Charges should be brought.

— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 31, 2014

In Alcorn’s final post on her Tumblr, she wrote that she wanted her death to “mean something.”

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was,” she wrote in her note.

In her hometown of Kings Mill, Ohio, friends and supporters of Alcorn planned to hold a candlelight vigil Saturday.

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