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Tuesday
Sep012015

Today on the Trail — 9/1/15

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The race for the White House turns the page into September Tuesday, with frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton missing from the trail for another day.

Clinton is still on vacation in the Hamptons, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a town hall back home in Miami Tuesday morning.

Several Republican contenders are in early states:

Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal are all in Iowa Tuesday.

Rand Paul is in New Hampshire, and John Kasich will be joining him there after an event in Michigan.

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham is home to file his paperwork for the primary in South Carolina.

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Tuesday
Sep012015

President Obama: Don't Condemn our Children to a Planet Beyond Repair

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- President Obama issued a stark warning on climate change Monday, stating that future generations will face harsh consequences if we don’t fix the issue soon.

“Climate change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here. It is happening now,” he warned the representatives of more than 20 countries attending the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience, or GLACIER.

“The time to heed the cynics and critics and the deniers has passed. The time to plead ignorance has surely passed,” Obama said. “Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They are on their own shrinking island.”

“Any so-called leader who doesn’t take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke is not fit to lead,” he said. “On this issue, of all issues, there is such a thing as being too late, and that moment is almost upon us.”

While discussing the rising sea levels, Obama cited a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that estimates Alaskan glaciers lose 57 gigatons, or 75 billion tons, of ice per year. To describe the size he explained it as a block of ice the of size the National Mall in Washington, D.C., stretching from Congress to the Lincoln Memorial, that is four times as tall as the Washington Monument.

Speaking in Alaska, he emphasized the already disappearing Alaskan villages and native cultures threatened by global warming; while adding that climate change affects every facet of life on the planet.

“Climate change is a trend that affects all trends. Economic trends, security trends, Everything will be impacted and becomes more dramatic with each passing year,” he said. “Desperate refugees seeking the sanctuary of nations not their own, political disruptions that could trigger multiple conflicts around the globe, that’s not a future of strong economic growth. That’s not a future where freedom and human rights is on the move.”

And while he warned of the need to act, he also cited that the technology exists to help solve the problem and it’s not “simply a danger to be avoided, this is an opportunity to be seized.”

Obama highlighted the agreement between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies and emitters, to limit emissions, while touting that the ability to grow economies and protect the environment are no longer at odds with one another. The U.S. economy has grown nearly 60 percent over the past 20 years, while carbon emissions have dropped to levels from two decades ago, he said.

But he was cautious to emphasize that no nation was “moving fast enough.”

“If we were to abandon our course of action -- if we stopped trying to build a clean energy economy and reduce carbon pollution -- if we do nothing to stop glaciers from melting faster and oceans from rising faster and forests from burning faster and storms from growing stronger, we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair it,” he said.

Obama added that the political will may finally be upon the world to act on the issue.

“We know that human activity is changing the climate. That is beyond dispute. Everything else is politics,” he said.

President Obama continues his tour of the 49th state Tuesday when he tours a glacier in Seward, Alaska.

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Monday
Aug312015

State Department Publishes More Than 7,000 Pages of Previously Unseen Clinton Emails

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department published more than 7,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private account to its public records website Monday evening.

It's the fourth and largest installment of emails, most of which were sent or received in 2009 and 2010. The State Department has now released just over 25 percent of the total amount of her emails in its possession. The agency hopes to have all her emails released by the end of January 2016.

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, maintains she did not handle classified material on that account.

Yet among the emails released Monday night, 125 were deemed classified by the State Department after the fact in order to shield them from public view.

Those emails were not marked classified at the time they were sent or received on Clinton's server, but following a review for public release the State Department determined those emails needed to be upgraded to a "confidential" status, one of the lowest levels of classification.

As a result the 125 emails were heavily redacted before they were published on the State Department's website and marked 'B1', which refers to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption code. That code states that anything determined to contain "classified information for national defense or foreign policy" is exempt from public release.

So far about 188 of Clinton's emails have been determined to be "classified" documents.

Clinton had often said that she never handled anything "marked" classified at the time it was originally sent or received. That statement appears to be true. But it's not possible to send a properly marked and classified email through an unclassified State Department account or a private email account, according to multiple senior government officials familiar with handling sensitive materials in the government email system.

It is possible, however, to quote from a classified email and send that through an unclassified system, which unless reported by the sender or receiver would not be detected until a later review.

One email released Monday night demonstrates that at least one member of the State Department’s “Help Desk” was unaware that Secretary Clinton was using a private email address.

On Saturday, February 27, 2010 a help desk analyst named Christopher Butzgy sent an email to HDR22@clintonemail.com, unaware that he was communicating with the Secretary of State. He informed her that one of his customers had been “receiving permanent fatal errors from this address.”

Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to her aide and advisor Huma Abedin asking, “Do you know what this is about?”

“Ur email must be back up!!,” Huma replied, before explaining that the error messages prompted a staffer to get State Department Help Desk involved. “They had no idea it was YOU, just some random address so they emailed,” Abedin wrote.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has repeatedly compared Clinton's email scandal to that of retired CIA Director, Gen. David Petraeus, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information. He was originally charged with a felony, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a deal with the prosecution.

One of those prosecutors penned a story for USA Today Sunday evening, claiming that Trump is making a false comparison. Anne Tompkin describes herself as the former US attorney for the Western district of North Carolina and said she oversaw the prosecution. "The key element that distinguishes Secretary Clinton’s email retention practices from Petraeus’ sharing of classified information is that Petraeus knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct, and that was the basis of his criminal liability," Tompkin wrote. USA Today also noted that Tompkin has donated to Clinton's presidential campaign.


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Monday
Aug312015

Issues Obama Should Address While Visiting the Arctic

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- President Obama headed north on Monday to highlight the issue of climate change against the backdrop of receding glaciers in Alaska.

While visiting the 49th state, he plans to tour Seward’s Exit glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, which has receded more than 1.25 miles since records have been kept, visit fishing villages and head to the Arctic Circle, all to highlight the dire need for action on climate change. The White House says the Arctic has warmed twice as fast as the world as a whole.

And while the issue of climate change is important, here are three other issues the president may want to address on his trip north:

Who Owns the Arctic?

While technically no one country can “own” the arctic, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea allows each country to submit a claim that their continental shelf extends north, thereby granting them rights beyond their borders.

In 2007, Russia planted a titanium flag on the floor of the Arctic Ocean, a move that was mostly symbolic, but has since followed with a formal claim to the United Nations. The Russians first submitted their claim in 2002, but the U.N. sent it back for lacking evidence.

Meanwhile, the U.S. isn’t even able to submit a claim because Congress has yet to accede the “Law of the Sea.”

Ownership will be important as the ice thaws. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates underneath the Arctic ice lies approximately 13 percent of the Earth’s oil and 30 percent of the Earth’s natural gas.

Military Readiness in the North

While Russia is submitting claims of ownership, they are also running multiple military exercises with upwards of 50 ships and submarines and thousands of servicemen.

The U.S. just completed a six-month Arctic deployment with the U.S.S. Seawolf submarine, but the U.S. military has no nuclear ships that are capable of operating in the Arctic.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said in March the U.S. needs better prepare for Arctic activity.

"We need to look at it deliberately and understand it," he told Military.com at the time. "We need to get industry up there and study the place and find out when it is going to melt. What are the sea lines that will open? Are there territorial disputes? Are there threats? Russia is increasing their military presence, which sort of makes sense. Also, how do we survive up there with our ships our aircraft and our people?"

While Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told NPR that having just a single, old heavy icebreaker at a time when other countries are jockeying for position in the Arctic weighs heavily on him.

"Russia has approximately 27 ocean-going icebreakers. ... Some of those are nuclear-powered," he told NPR in June. "And so we're not even in the same league as Russia right now."

And it’s not just Russia upping its Arctic military strategy; Canada has also put resources into its northern navy.

New Shipping Lanes Opening Up as Ice Thaws

While the thawing ice is proving worrisome for Arctic animals and climate change, it has provided a shortcut from Europe to Asia. Shipping lanes have opened up. The Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects estimate a trip from Norway to Japan that saves 10 days compared to using the Suez Canal could save roughly $1 million per trip.

While Japan’s transportation ministry logged only 71 ships crossing the northern route in 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal, the route is only open during the summer months when less ice impedes the journey.

While other countries are jockeying for a position in the Arctic, the United States has lagged behind.

“We have been for some time clamoring about our nation’s lack of capacity to sustain any meaningful presence in the Arctic,” Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant, told the New York Times.

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Monday
Aug312015

Carson Tied for Lead with Trump in Iowa, Poll Finds

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Neurosurgeon Ben Carson has surged into the spotlight.

A new poll released Monday shows Ben Carson tied with Donald Trump for the lead in Iowa with 23 percent support, marking the first time since mid-July that an Iowa poll has shown Trump not alone in the lead.

The Monmouth University poll shows the surgeon’s support has unexpectedly increased by 15 points since the organization’s previous poll in mid-July. Meanwhile, former Iowa frontrunner Scott Walker has dropped 15 points to fifth place now.

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina holds third place in the new poll with 10 percent support, although criteria for the debate on CNN among the top 10 candidates threatens her ability to grab a podium.

The three candidates in the Republican field who have never held elected office now fill the top three spots in Iowa, so it’s no surprise that two-thirds of GOP voters say they want an outsider who can bring a new approach to Washington over someone with government experience who knows how to get things done.

Carson's favorability rating is the strongest in the field: eight in 10 Republican voters see him favorably; only 6 percent don’t.

Ted Cruz is in fourth place in the poll with 9 percent support, while Jeb Bush has sunk to 6th place with 5 percent of the vote. Bush is the only GOP candidate to garner a majority unfavorable rating in Iowa, up nine points to 51 percent since mid-July.

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Monday
Aug312015

What the White House Thinks About a Kanye West Presidential Bid

Jason Kempin/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rapper Kanye West sent a jolt through the political and entertainment world on Sunday night when he announced he would run for president in 2020.

Now, the White House has responded.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest jokingly welcomed a potential presidential bid from the 38-year-old rapper, saying he looks “forward to seeing what slogan he chooses to embroider on his campaign hat.”

So what could West's presidential campaign slogan be? He may have offered a hint in his speech at the VMAs -- “It’s about ideas, bro.”

"I don’t know what I stand to lose after this. It don’t matter though, because it ain’t about me. It’s about ideas, bro, new ideas. People with ideas, people who believe in truth,” West said while accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs Sunday night. “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” (Mic drop.)

If the rapper-turned-presidential-aspirant does decide to mount a 2020 run, West shouldn’t expect a glowing endorsement from President Obama. After all, the president has called him a “jack---” twice -- first in 2009 after West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the VMAs, then again in a 2012 interview with The Atlantic.

“He is a jack---,” Obama told The Atlantic in 2012. “But he’s talented.”

Obama also called out West earlier this year for claiming the president calls him on his home phone.

“I’ve met Kanye twice,” Obama told Jimmy Kimmel earlier this year. “The first time was when I was a senator and he was with his mom. He’d just gotten big. He’s from Chicago, so they wanted to meet, and he was very soft-spoken and very gracious. He was a young guy, and hadn’t quite come into his own. And about six months ago, he came to an event and, look, I love his music and he’s incredibly creative. I don’t think I’ve got his home number.”

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Monday
Aug312015

Bernie Sanders Applied for 'Conscientious Objector' Status During Vietnam

Adam Bettcher/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Bernie Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War, his campaign confirmed to ABC News.

"As a college student in the 1960s he was a pacifist," Michael Briggs, campaign spokesman added in an email. "[He] isn't now."

Last week, the Des Moines Register ran a column from a Hillary Clinton supporter and Vietnam veteran, titled, "How can Sanders be commander in chief?"

"My question as a Vietnam veteran is: How on earth could a person claiming to be a conscientious objector become the commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world?" questioned the column author Steve Wikert. According to a profile from the Vermont Senator's hometown newspaper, the Burlington Free Press, his conscientious objector status application was eventually rejected, but by then Sanders was too old to be drafted.

Sanders's political and anti-war activism in the 1960s and '70s has been well-documented. While at the University of Chicago, he was a member of several progressive peace organizations, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Student Peace Union.

As a congressman and later senator, Sanders has rarely voted to authorize the use of force.

In 1991, he stood in opposition to the first Gulf War, voting against military involvement in the country even after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. "I think we could've gotten Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in a way that did not require a war," he told ABC's Martha Raddatz Sunday on This Week, arguing that with the world in agreement, other options were available, including sanctions.

After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Sanders did vote in favor of a military response in Afghanistan. But Sanders said the use of force, in his opinion, is not only permissible in response to an attack.

"I believe that the United States should have the strongest military in the world. We should be working with other countries in coalition. And when people threaten the United States or threaten our allies, or commit genocide, the United States, with other countries, should be prepared to act militarily," he continued.

Sanders's campaign website does not include any foreign policy or national security information under its "On the Issues" tab, but the Senator said he would be focusing more on those issues in the future.

On the campaign trail, Sanders does talk about his work on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs and what he sees as the long-term, human cost of war.

"The cost of war is great, and it is far more than the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on planes, tanks, missiles and guns," Sanders wrote in an opinion piece in the Boston Globe last summer. "The cost of war is more than 6,800 service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of war is caring for the spouses and children who have to rebuild their lives after the loss of their loved ones. It's about hundreds of thousands of men and women coming home from war with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, many of them having difficulty keeping jobs in order to pay their bills. It's about high divorce rates. It's about the terrible tragedy of veterans committing suicide," he wrote.

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Monday
Aug312015

Obama's Denali Renaming Gets Mixed Reactions in Congress

Lance King/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration’s decision to rename North America’s highest summit from Mount McKinley to its traditional Native American name, Denali, has divided lawmakers along geographical lines.

Many lawmakers from McKinley’s home state of Ohio were furious with the announcement Sunday, while Alaskan legislators welcomed the decision, which reverts the mountain back to its original name before Congress changed it in 1917 to honor the assassinated president, William McKinley.

The Ohio Republicans who weighed in on the decision, including Sen. Rob Portman and House Speaker John Boehner, were uniformly upset. Boehner said in a written statement that he was “deeply disappointed” with the decision.

“There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy,” Boehner said.

Ohio lawmakers have long regarded the preservation of McKinley’s name as an important home state issue.

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who represents the 13th district, introduced a bill in January 2013 to retain the name, saying, “Mount McKinley has borne the name of our 25th President for over 100 years. We must retain this national landmark’s name in order to honor the legacy of this great American President and patriot.” A spokesman for Ryan said he would not be weighing in on Sunday’s announcement.

Ohio’s senior senator, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, was less pointed in his reaction, expressing neither disappointment nor happiness that the mountain would now on be known by its native Athabascan name, which translates to “the high one” or “the great one.”

"This announcement is about honoring the Athabascan people who call Alaska their home and its highest mountain, ‘Denali,’” Brown said in a statement. “President McKinley is a great Ohioan and streets and schools throughout the Midwest bear testimony to his legacy. I will continue to work with the Administration to ensure that future generations of Americans are aware of McKinley's legacy."

Just as the preservation of the name Mount McKinley is important to Ohio lawmakers, so too was its change to Alaskans, whose congressional delegation welcomed the news with bipartisan excitement.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski tweeted a video reaction to the announcement featuring her posing in front of the mountain.

Democratic Sen. Dan Sullivan tweeted similarly.

And Rep. Don Young, a Republican, tweeted that the announcement was a foregone conclusion.

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Monday
Aug312015

Today on the Trail — 8/31/15

ABC News (NEW YORK) — It looks like an exciting, unpredictable month of August in the race for the White House is approaching a quiet end.

Frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have no public events Monday, with Clinton back to the Hamptons to continue her vacation.

Republican establishment favorite Jeb Bush is also off the trail.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hits the late night circuit, appearing on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich takes to Michigan, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in Nevada for a meet-and-greet.

In the early states, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are in Iowa.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has three events in New Hampshire.

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Monday
Aug312015

Hillary Clinton's 55,000 Pages of Emails: That's a Whole Lot of Paper

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The State Department is set to release its largest batch of Hillary Clinton's emails to date Monday, at least 6,000 pages from the over 55,000 pages it’s been poring over since April.

That’s a lot of paper.

With the average ream of paper measuring two inches thick, 55,000 pieces of paper stacked on top of each other is high enough to let someone climb up and change a light bulb 18 feet high -- or even higher if the person stood on top.

The average piece of paper can fit about 500 words, single-spaced, so that much paper could fit more than 27 million words, which would take the average person, who types 40 words per minute, more than a year to type. It would take the average person, who can read a page in about two minutes, more than 76 days to read.

With one tree making more than 16 reams of paper, it may have taken six trees to create those 55,000 pieces of paper.

Watch the video for more examples to help you visualize how much paper 55,000 pages really is.


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