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Wednesday
Oct222014

Fence Jumper Caught Outside White House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A fence jumper was apprehended Wednesday night outside the White House after he scaled the north fence, a Secret Service spokesman told ABC News.

A K-9 unit caught a man identified as Dominic Adesanya about 7:16 p.m. on the North Lawn, said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. He kicked at one of the dogs, then another dog subdued him.

Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Maryland, was then taken to a nearby hospital, said Donovan. Charges against him are pending. He was unarmed at the time of his arrest.

The White House was put on lockdown during the incident. Two K-9s were taken to the veterinarian for injuries they sustained in the incident.

The Secret Service came under scrutiny last month after Omar Gonzalez, a knife-wielding Iraq War veteran, allegedly managed to slip over the fence, past several layers of security, and into the White House’s East Room, where he was subdued by an off-duty agent.

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned after the incident.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

Ebola Czar Ron Klain Starts His Job — Quietly

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newly-installed Ebola czar Ron Klain appeared for the first time on Wednesday with his new boss President Obama in the Oval Office — and said not a word.

In fact, the president didn’t even introduce Klain or acknowledge him during a brief press avail after their hour-long meeting.

Klain nodded his head a few times as Obama recapped the U.S. response to Ebola and new federal policies now in place.

Obama said he is “cautiously more optimistic” about the situation in the U.S., noting that dozens of people who had interacted with Thomas Eric Duncan have now been cleared.

The president said Amber Vinson and Nina Pham “seem to be doing better” and that Wednesday he called their co-workers at Texas Presbyterian to give a pep talk.

“Spirits were good,” Obama said. “People were very proud of the work that they’ve done and understandably so.”

Obama said the American people should have confidence that the government is in a much better position to deal with any additional cases of Ebola.

He also noted a “silver lining” in the Ebola scare: “It’s a reminder of how important our public health systems are, and in many ways, what this has done is elevated that importance.”

“There may come a time sometime in the future where we are dealing with an airborne disease that is much easier to catch and is deadly,” he said, “and in some ways, this has created a trial run for federal, state and local public health officials and health care providers.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

Swedish Massages for Rabbits? Taxpayer Expenses You Won't Believe

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In Washington, pork is often in the eye of the beholder. And retiring GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sees a lot of it.

Coburn’s fifth annual and final “Wastebook” lists 100 “silly, unnecessary and low priority projects” that he says cost taxpayers a combined $25 billion.

“Is each of these a true national priority, or could the money have been better spent on a more urgent need, or not spent at all?” Coburn writes in the 110-page report.

Here are five eyebrow-raising entries on Coburn’s list:

1. Swedish Massages for Rabbits: $387,000

Eighteen New Zealand white rabbits received 30-minute massages, four times a day in a taxpayer-funded study by the National Institutes of Health. The rub downs were performed by a specially-designed mechanical Swedish massage machine that “simulates the long flowing strokes.” Researchers say humans are the ultimate beneficiaries of the project, which studied the benefits of massage on recovery from exercise. But Coburn calls it a case of waste, citing existing studies of treatments for aches and pains, and suggesting that humans would be better subjects than rabbits. (As for those massaged rabbits, they were ultimately euthanized, the report says.)

2. Army Video Game Training Terrorists?: $414,000

The U.S. Army spent $414,000 this year maintaining a free online video game that it first developed and launched as a recruitment tool back in 2009, the report says citing the Congressional Research Service. America’s Army is a first-person shooter game that simulates special forces operations. Coburn, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the realistic nature of the program makes it as much a training device as a recruitment tool. “Some intelligence officials worry it could also be aiding jihadists and mass murderers,” the report claims.

3. Hungry Spouses & Voodoo Dolls: $331,000

What happens between couples when one is particularly hungry? A National Science Foundation study set out to evaluate a connection between low blood sugar and anger by arming couples with voodoo dolls representing their spouse. The hungrier the spouse, the more pins were poked into the doll when they got agitated. A lead researcher concluded, “Hungry people are cranky and aggressive.” Coburn’s report claims the findings are “already obvious to many couples.”

4. Mountain Lions on Treadmill: $856,000

Three mountain lions spent eight months learning to walk on a treadmill as part of study funded by taxpayers through National Science Foundation. Researchers were studying the big cats’ energy consumption and hunting techniques to “inform public knowledge and opinion of large mammal behavior and conservation.” It follows similar government treadmill studies on monkeys, rats, cows and even shrimp. “While support for basic science is not itself wasteful,” Coburn’s report reads, “federal research agencies should better prioritize how tax dollars are directed to ensure adequate support for more pressing scientific endeavors.”

5. Unneeded “Sheep Station”: $1.98 million

A 28,000-acre facility in Idaho to graze 3,000 sheep -- dubbed the “U.S. Sheep Experiment Station” -- has been deemed unsustainable and unnecessary by the Obama administration. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said outright earlier this year that it should be closed to prioritize research on more important projects. But members of congress and other state officials have succeeded in keeping the $2 million a year facility open for the benefit of Idaho businesses, the report says.

Asked about several National Science Foundation projects included in the report, NSF spokeswoman Dana Topousis told ABC News that each was funded after a "rigorous merit review process" through which only 20 percent of proposals each year are approved.

"All proposals submitted to NSF are reviewed according to two merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts," Topousis said in a statement. "Nearly every proposal is evaluated by a minimum of three independent reviewers consisting of scientists, engineers and educators who do not work at NSF or for the institution that employs the proposing researchers."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

Chuck Norris Gives Texas Voters a Kick, Boosts GOP Candidate

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Walker, Texas Ranger returned to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, but not to fight bad guys. He swooped in to lend a helping hand to Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.

“Chuck Norris doesn’t campaign with Greg Abbott,” Abbott’s campaign spokesman Avdiel Huerta said. “Greg Abbott campaigns with Chuck Norris.”

“Together,” Huerta added, “they plan to give Texas voters a good roundhouse kick in the direction of their local polling places.”

With the first week of early voting underway in Texas, both Abbott and his challenger, Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, are increasing their get-out-the-vote activities, and Abbott is counting on a little star power. Norris will join Abbott at stops in Corpus Christi and San Antonio.

This isn’t Norris’ first time in the political arena.

In 2012, he endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for president, saying he was the “best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.”

Norris, 74, also got involved in the National Rifle Association’s “Trigger the Vote,” campaign this summer.

“Anyone can throw a punch. It takes a real man or woman to punch a voter registration card,” Norris said in a video.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

History Repeating Itself in Connecticut Governor's Race

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Four years ago, Dan Malloy and Tom Foley had the tightest election in Connecticut’s history, with Malloy winning the governor's race by about 6,000 votes.

Now, the two look headed for a similarly tight brawl.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday, Gov. Malloy has 43 percent of likely voters while GOP challenger Foley has 42 percent. Independent candidate Joe Visconti has 9 percent.

The results are similar to Quinnipiac's poll from earlier this month.

There is a wide gender gap so Malloy will know who to thank if he does win. He leads Foley 51 to 32 percent among women, while Foley leads Malloy 53 to 34 percent among men.

With just two weeks to go, 81 percent of Connecticut voters say their mind is made up.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

First Day on the Job for Ebola Czar Ron Klain Begins at the White House

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It's day one for Ron Klain and already the newly-minted Ebola Czar has a full plate and a packed schedule.

On Wednesday he sits down with President Obama at the White House and gets up to speed with the administration's Ebola response team.

As the new point-person, Klain is tasked with coordinating the various agencies, and all of the bureaucracies involved, and making sure the government's response runs more smoothly.

One item not on Klain’s schedule: testifying before the House on Friday. Other administration representatives will speak at that hearing, since it will only be day three of Klain's tenure.

Meanwhile, Klain hasn't even started his new job and already speculation is swirling about his next position. Politico reported on Wednesday that he is in line to replace John Podesta as counselor to the president, or possibly even to succeed Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Not surprisingly, the White House insists Klain is focused on the task front of him.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

White House Still Confused About Bruce Braley

David Greedy/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is doing its best to boost Iowa Senate candidate Bruce Braley, but it keeps getting tripped up.

After repeatedly flubbing his name and referring to him as “Bruce Bailey” at a rally last week, first lady Michelle Obama got a do-over Tuesday while stumping for the Democrat in Iowa City.

This time, she made sure to get it right, joking that she has so much trouble with names she sometimes can’t keep her daughters straight.

“It’s like, who are you? I call Barack Bo,” she said, explaining how she sometimes calls her husband by the dog’s name. “It never works out really well.”

Despite the first lady’s attempt to smooth things over, the White House goofed again, sending out the transcript of Mrs. Obama’s remarks in a an email entitled “Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Governor Bruce Braley.”

They got the name right, but not the title. Braley is a candidate for Senate, not governor.

The White House later issued a correction.

They will get another chance to get it right when Vice President Joe Biden campaigns for Braley next Monday.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

Congressional Candidate Wants You to Know She Does Not Hate Puppies

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Martha McSally asked voters in Arizona’s second district to consider the age-old question: Does this candidate hate puppies? Of course not, according to her campaign.

In a new ad released Tuesday called “Puppies,” the former Air Force colonel fired back against the “scare-tactics” her campaign says have been used in the ads of her opponent, Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Barber, and his political allies.

The argument has been used several times over the last few weeks in specific reference to one of Barber’s “political allies” in particular: Former Rep. Gabby Giffords’ PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions.

The outside group put out an ad last month that garnered sharp criticism from the McSally campaign and others for accusing the GOP candidate of supporting the “stalker gap” that allows individuals convicted of a misdemeanor for stalking to buy guns after a background check.

Giffords is not only Barber’s predecessor, but also his former boss. Turning focus back to her outrage over the Americans for Responsible Solutions ad “Stalker,” McSally’s new ad attempts to mock the outlandish claims being made by her opponent’s side.

In the ad, an “over-the-top” narrator, or “Ron Barber’s ad guy,” proclaims over “ominous music” that “McSally dislikes puppies.” “Watch it,” McSally says standing over him in a sound studio.

To be clear, Barber’s campaign has never actually accused McSally of hating puppies. The ad speaks to what her campaign believes are the outlandish nature the attacks against her have taken on.

There are other silly statements in the ad, like “McSally opposes apple pie.” The narrator also suggests she’s launched her own “War on Women.”

“Are you kidding me? This is why people are fed up with politics. The lies keep growing but the jobs don’t. I’m Martha McSally and I approve this message because it’s time for a change,” she fires back to the faux narrator.

Other issues referenced in the commercial include McSally’s position on student loans, social security and Medicare.

“The ad also corrects for the record once and for all: Martha McSally loves puppies,” according to a statement from her campaign.

In response to the ad, the Barber campaign noted: “This campaign is not about puppies, but about people.”

“The fact is, Martha McSally’s stated positions hurt the people of southern Arizona and she needs to take responsibility for her positions,” said Ashley Nash-Hahn, spokeswoman for Ron Barber for Congress. “She also needs to take responsibility for the fact that her own attack ads have been called ‘not true’ by non-partisan news outlets.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

Christie Fed Up with Talk About Raising Minimum Wage

ABC/ LOU ROCCO(WASHINGTON) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no fan of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour as urged by President Obama.

Christie, who many expect will run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, "I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am."

The governor went on to say that parents in U.S. want more for their children than aspiring to make the minimum wage.

He then went on to mock Obama and his constituency, saying, "The president [is] playing to the lowest common denominator on a higher minimum wage."

Christie also went on to attack the Affordable Care Act, calling the health care law "fiction. It doesn’t work, and it should be repealed."

And while he was on a roll, the Republican governor picked on one of his favorite enemies, teachers unions, saying "It's time to start offending them."

In response to Christie's remarks on minimum wage, Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said, "Raising the minimum wage to just $10.10 could help lift nearly 5 million Americans out of poverty. A raise could also add billions to the GDP and add 85,000 jobs to the economy."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct222014

White House Fence Jumper Deemed Not Competent for Trial

m-kojot/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A preliminary mental health assessment has determined that the White House fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, is not competent for trial.

Gonzalez was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a weapon, assaulting an officer and numerous local offenses after he hopped the fence at the White House and evaded Secret Service agents on his way into the building in September.

Last week, Gonzalez underwent a one-hour forensic screening. Based on the results of that screening, a judge presiding over the pretrial hearing determined that Gonzalez "was presently not competent."

A defense attorney objected to the findings of that screening.

The judge ordered a more complete health exam within the next month.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio