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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Wednesday
Nov262014

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Underwent Heart Procedure

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a coronary catheterization on Wednesday.

According to a press release from the court, Ginsburg experienced discomfort while partaking in "routine exercise." Ginsburg was taken to a MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where a coronary blockage was found and a stent was placed in her right coronary artery.

Ginsburg is "resting comfortably" and is expected to be released within 48 hours.

Despite being diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009, Ginsburg, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, has never missed a day of oral arguments due to medical treatment.

The court is set to hear arguments on Monday.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

First Family Hands Out Thanksgiving Food in DC

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Wednesday afternoon, the First Family handed out Thanksgiving food items to recipients at Bread for the City, a DC agency that provides food, clothing medical care, and legal and social services to the poor.

President Obama gave out bags of sweet potatoes and the First Lady gave out turnips. Malia handed out cranberry sauce and canned beans, while Sasha provided canned mixed vegetables and White House Hershey kisses.

The Obamas were joined by family and friends, including Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, who handed out fresh bread.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Obama Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey 'Cheese'

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama issued yet another executive order Wednesday afternoon, granting two turkeys amnesty from Thanksgiving dinner.

"I am here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month," the president said before pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the White House.

"Today, I’m taking an action fully within my legal authority -- the same kind of action taken by Democrat and Republican presidents before me, to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate," Obama said.

Cheese was chosen by fans to be named the National Thanksgiving Turkey and pardoned by the president, but Mac's life was also spared. Since 2012, fans have been able to vote for their favorite turkey on Twitter.

"Let’s face it, if you’re a turkey and you’re named after a side dish -- your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low, so these guys are well ahead of the curve," Obama added.

The side dish's chances of escaping Obama's dinner are pretty low -- macaroni and cheese has been featured on the White House Thanksgiving menu every year.

The nearly 50-pound birds were raised with the Presidential Turkey Flock at Cooper Farms in Fort Recovery, Ohio.

Since arriving in Washington, Mac and Cheese have been pampered at the Willard Hotel in a custom room with tarps and shavings. Following the ceremony, they flocked to their retirement home at Morven Park in Virginia.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

House Ethics Committee Defers Rep. Grimm's Case to DOJ Again 

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House Ethics Committee has once again deferred consideration of Rep. Michael Grimm's alleged violations of campaign finance law to the Department of Justice.

Grimm, R-N.Y., is alleged to have solicited and accepted prohibited campaign contributions, caused false information to be included in campaign finance reports and allegedly made a deal with a foreign national to collect campaign contributions in exchange for help getting a green card.

The committee had previously made a similar decision on Nov. 26, 2013, when it deferred action on the case.

The committee says it will make public statements at least annually regarding Grimm’s ethics referral.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Angelina Jolie on Why She Would Get into Politics

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Angelina Jolie would consider a career in politics "if I felt I could really make a difference," she told a British television network.

"I've always gone where I felt I was needed," the actress and activist, 39, told ITV on Tuesday. "When I started working with the U.N., I loved working in the field."

Jolie began her humanitarian work in the early 2000s and since then has served as a United Nations goodwill ambassador, traveling to places such as Darfur, a war-torn region in Sudan, and neighboring Chad. She's also met with members of Congress over the years, championing causes focused on children in developing nations.

In June, Jolie was appointed an honorary dame commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George for her work with the United Kingdom and efforts to end sexual violence in war zones.

Jolie added that after her U.N. work, she got more involved with going to Washington, D.C., to "plead" for certain cases.

Of that work, Jolie said she "doesn't know what that means or where that will lead me." But if she's useful in making change, then politics might be in her future.

The Oscar winner also spoke to ITV about "all of the people who are starving and dying at the moment."

"We simply aren't doing enough," she said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

EPA Proposes Stricter Smog Standards

hxdbzxy/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new smog standards in an effort to safeguard Americans from air pollution on Wednesday.

"Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. "We deserve to know the air we breathe is safe."

The current standard deems 75 parts per billion of ozone as acceptable, but the EPA wants to lower that figure, perhaps to 60 parts per billion. At 75 parts per billion, the agency says, individuals can suffer damage to their respiratory system, asthma or aggravated cases of asthma, other long diseases.

The EPA says strengthening its standards would prevent at least 320,000 asthma attacks and at least 330,000 missed school days.

The agency expects to hold public hearings and announce final standards by Oct. 1, 2015.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Where Turkeys Go After They're Pardoned by the President 

seyitali/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It's a presidential tradition to "pardon" a turkey on the eve of every Thanksgiving -- and now we know where the lucky birds go to retire.

After the ceremony at the White House, this year's spared turkey will head to Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. In past years, the birds have gone to George Washington's Mount Vernon.

"Before that, Disney World. And before that, Disney Land," said Keith Williams, a spokesperson for the National Turkey Federation. "And about maybe 10 or 20 years ago, they went to a petting zoo in the area."

The federation works with different farmers each year to send two birds to the White House. One will be pardoned, and the other is a backup. Neither is really at risk of winding up on the First Family's dinner table, Williams said.

"Everyone calls it 'the pardon,' but it's the presentation of the national Thanksgiving turkey," he said. "We've done this since Truman. I believe it was George H. W. Bush who made an offhand comment that he was going to pardon the turkey, and that's where it became a custom."

This year's turkeys will join one of last year's turkeys, Caramel, at Morven Park. The other turkey, the one President Obama chose as the national Thanksgiving turkey, died this past summer.

"They're not bred for longevity," Williams said. "They're not pets. They're not workhorses. They don't live that long."

The turkeys come from an Ohio farm. People vote on the names and the final suggestions are sent to the White House. The White House announced that this year's turkeys are named Mac and Cheese.

 



Teresa Davenport of Morven Park said she'll be transporting the turkeys from the White House to the their new home, which is about an hour's drive.

"I'm bringing them in the back of our van and hoping it's not snowy and rainy," she said.

 


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

New Name Added to List of Defense Secretary Candidates

US Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) -- At least one new name has shown up on the list of candidates who could potentially replace Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel who announced Monday that he would step down from that role.

ABC News has learned that Jeh Johnson, the current Secretary of Homeland Security, may be under consideration for Hagel's old job.

Initial reports indicated that Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Michelle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense and Ashton Carter, former Deputy Defense Secretary, were among the candidates for the job. Reed and Flournoy, however, have reportedly told the White House that they are not interested in taking over the Pentagon.

Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday that Hagel's decision to step down was mutually agreed to by Hagel and President Obama, and that it was not prompted by any policy disagreements.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Federal Judge Deems Arkansas Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

senky/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- A federal judge on Tuesday ruled against Arkansas' state laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Amendment 83 of the Arkansas Constitution defines marriage, court documents say, as "consist[ing] only of the union of one man and one woman." A state law also defines marriage the same way and declares all marriages of same-sex couples as void.

The lawsuit was brought by a pair of same-sex couples. One couple, Rita and Pam Jernigan who are married under Iowa state law, want to receive spousal benefits under the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. Meanwhile the other couple, Becca and Tara Austin, hopes to marry "for the same reasons that many other couples marry: to declare publicly their love and commitment to one another before their family, friends, and community and to give to one another the security and protections that only marriage provides," according to court documents.

The Austins say that because Becca is not a biological parent to the twin children they have, and because the two cannot legally marry under Arkansas law, Becca cannot be considered a parent to the children. Court documents also cite reduced family resources and stigmatization as complaints.

Each couple had applied for and were denied marriages licenses from the Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk following the U.S. Supreme Court deemed a part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, eliminating the definition of marriage -- for purposes of federal laws -- to include only opposite-sex couples.

Judge Kristine Baker determined that the laws in question "restrict the Jernigans and Austins' fundamental right to marry," and that those lws "unconstitutionally deny consenting adult same-sex couples their fundamental right to marry."

Baker did, however, grant a stay, giving the state the opportunity to appeal the ruling.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov252014

'Disappointed' Holder Vows New Federal Action to Build Trust After Ferguson

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he was “disappointed” by the violence that erupted overnight in Ferguson, Missouri, and he said the federal government would soon announce a series of new programs to help ease tensions between law enforcement and citizens in cities and towns like Ferguson.

“There are other communities around this country that have these same issues that have to be dealt with,” said Holder, reflecting on the deep mistrust embedded into the streets of some communities. “These gaps, these divides exist in other parts of the country beyond Ferguson, and our focus will be national in its scope to try to deal ultimately with these issues.”

At a hastily-arranged meeting with reporters inside the Justice Department, Holder said he was briefed overnight and into Tuesday about the security situation on the ground in Ferguson, and he then briefed President Obama in the Oval Office.

The two talked about “programmatic initiatives that we want to announce relatively soon,” Holder said of the White House meeting, adding that in the weeks ahead the federal government will be bringing together federal and local law enforcement, elected officials and community leaders to take “concrete steps” to address issues of mistrust.

“I think this is an opportunity to find those things that bind us as a nation, to be honest with one another about those things that continue to divide us, and to come up with ways in which we make this union even more perfect,” Holder said.

In his remarks Tuesday, Holder also emphasized that – even though a Missouri grand jury declined to charge officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August – the Justice Department continues to conduct two separate probes -- a criminal investigation into Brown’s killing and a civil probe into practices of the Ferguson police department more broadly.

“They will be conducted rigorously and in a timely manner so that we can move forward as expeditiously as we can to restore trust, to rebuild understanding and to foster cooperation between law enforcement and community members,” Holder said, flanked on either side by the Justice Department officials overseeing the federal probes.

Specifically, federal investigators are looking into whether Wilson used unreasonable force when he killed Brown on Aug. 9. But building a case like that is particularly challenging, especially since prosecutors would need to prove that Wilson intended from the start to violate Brown’s constitutional rights.

Federal investigators are also taking a hard look at the Ferguson police department, trying to determine whether officers routinely engage in a "pattern or practice" of unlawful and discriminatory policing.

Depending on what federal investigators conclude and how city officials respond, a civil lawsuit could be filed by the Justice Department and a federal court could demand Ferguson police make big transformations.

Holder also disclosed that he has asked the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Ron Davis, to conduct an “after-action review” of the law enforcement response to the violence that erupted overnight.

The after-action review will look to “develop strategies for identifying and isolating the criminal elements from peaceful protesters,” Holder said, sitting next to Davis and top Civil Rights Division officials Molly Moran and Mark Kappelhoff.

“I was disappointed that some members of the community resorted to violence rather than respecting what I thought were the really heartfelt words of Michael Brown Sr. and the wishes that he expressed about how he wanted his son’s memory to be honored with non-violence,” Holder said. “It is clear that acts of violence threaten to drown out those who have legitimate voices, legitimate demonstrators, and those acts cannot and will not be condoned.”

At the same time, Holder said, he was “encouraged” by the peaceful demonstrations across the country and “heartened” by those in Ferguson who tried to stop the violence and looting there.

They are “heroes in my mind,” he said.


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