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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Tuesday
Sep232014

UN General Assembly: Five President Obama Handshakes to Watch

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama arrives at the United Nations headquarters Tuesday for a whirlwind three days of meetings, forums, receptions and lots, and lots of handshakes.

Representatives of more than 193 states will attend the U.N. General Assembly, including more than 120 presidents and prime ministers. Here are five to pay attention to if and when they shake hands with Obama.

1. IRANIAN PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI

To shake, or not to shake? That’s the question aides to Obama and Rouhani will be weighing after a history-making encounter during the U.N. General Assembly last year. The rival leaders spoke briefly by phone at the end of the 2013 summit, marking the highest level American-Iranian contact in decades. But a rumored face-to-face meeting never materialized. Now, as western powers race toward an end-of-year deadline on nuclear negotiations with Iran -- and seek Iran’s help in the fight against shared-nemesis ISIS -- perhaps a little presidential touch could be in order.

“The President of the United States is well known for being open to such a meeting, but the choice is really Iran’s,” a senior Obama administration official said last week. There is no official meeting on the books -- and it’s not clear Obama and Rouhani will ever be in the same room at the same time. Secretary of State John Kerry met privately with his Iranian counterpart for more than an hour on Sunday at a New York City hotel.

“This week is an opportunity to make additional progress,” Kerry said. “It is our intention to do so."

2. EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISSI


When President Obama shakes hands with President Abdel el-Sissi of Egypt for the first time on Thursday, there’s a good chance the former Egyptian army general will say, “I told you so.”

El-Sissi says his role in last year’s coup and his imposition of a hardline ruling order in Egypt -- both of which have drawn criticism from the U.S. -- have been valuable antidotes to the establishment of Islamic extremist groups like ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State.

As Obama looks to bolster his anti-ISIS coalition with commitments from Arab countries, the personal encounter with El-Sissi could be a critical moment. Perhaps they can seal a deal.

3. IRAQI PRIME MINISTER HAIDER AL-ABADI

As American warplanes help put the squeeze on ISIS militants terrorizing his country, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on Wednesday will have his first face-to-face meeting with the U.S. military’s commander-in-chief. In many ways, al-Abadi is the linchpin of President Obama’s new strategy to take the fight to ISIS. The White House has said the formation of an inclusive, “broad-based” Iraqi government was a prerequisite for greater American military involvement in the fight. On Sept. 8, Obama called to congratulate al-Abadi on getting it done.

One thing on which both men will agree: no U.S. ground troops should surge into Iraq to join the fight.

4. INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDA MODI

For almost 10 years, Narenda Modi was barred by the State Department from stepping foot in the U.S. This week, newly installed Indian Prime Minister will meet President Obama and be feted with a private dinner at the White House.

Modi, a Hindu nationalist, had been denied entry since 2005 under provisions of a 1998 law that restricts visas for political figures responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom.” The George W. Bush administration determined that Modi, as chief minister of Gujarat, India, failed to stop a series of riots that turned deadly for Muslim minority groups in his state. But an Indian supreme court has since ruled that Modi was not culpable and the Obama administration has quietly lifted the ban.

Obama may shake Modi’s hand, but it’s unclear whether there a picture of the encounter will be made public.

5. UKRANIAN PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO


On the heels of a highly-symbolic trip to Washington and meeting in the Oval Office, Petro Poroshenko has plenty of reasons to shake President Obama’s hand and smile for the cameras. He went home with $53 million more in U.S. humanitarian and military aid, and effectively sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin about where Ukraine’s alliances stand. Putin, who was uninvited from the G8 summit earlier this year, has chosen to not attend the U.N. General Assembly. But a Russian role in the fight against ISIS remains very much under discussion with that country’s foreign ministers who are at the table.

“We have demonstrated over the course of our relationship with Russia is that it is possible for us to have strenuous disagreements related to their behavior in certain parts of the world while being able to maintain some ongoing cooperation and collaboration with them in other parts of the world,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “And our counter-terrorism relationship with Russia despite our very strong and vigorous differences as it relates to Ukraine, is ongoing.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

Obama Alerts Leading Supporters on Capitol Hill of ISIS Airstrikes in Syria

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is getting regular updates on the operation against ISIS targets inside Syria, which began earlier Monday night, according to a senior White House official.

The president also phoned House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to brief them on the missile strikes and bombing.

Congress is in recess, with members scattered across the world on trips and back in their districts. But the president began reaching out to a few key members of Congress late Monday afternoon.

In addition to the calls from the president to leaders, senior Capitol Hill aides tell ABC News that Vice President Joe Biden reached out to a wider ring of senior lawmakers -- including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice called House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce earlier Monday evening with a notification, a GOP congressional aide told ABC News.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., issued this sign of support on Twitter: "All Americans must stand w/Pres Obama in our war against ISIS - particularly tonight's air strikes in Syria."

Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, encouraged unity among the divided Congress, noting that "in times of war and of peace it is important that we come together as a nation."

"To defeat ISIS, we must cut off the head of the snake, which exists in Syria. I support the administration's move to conduct airstrikes against ISIS wherever it exists," McCaul, R-Texas, wrote. "ISIS is not just a threat to the United States - it is a threat to all nations that value human life and decency. We must continue to lead the coalition and utilize all tools available to combat this threat until ISIS is destroyed."

Obama travels to New York Tuesday, where he will deliver remarks at the Climate Summit 2014 in the General Assembly Hall.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

White House Fence Jumper Had 800 Rounds of Ammo in Car

New River Valley Regional Jail(WASHINGTON) -- White House fence jumper Omar Gonzalez had more than 800 rounds of ammo in his car plus two hatchets and a machete, prosecutors said Monday as Virginia authorities revealed the Army veteran was arrested last July and charged with possession of a sawed-off shot gun and eluding police in Wythe County, Virginia.

Police also found "several assault rifles" in the vehicle at the time of his July arrest, according to a criminal complaint obtained by ABC News.

After Virginia State Police received several calls about a reckless driver on July 19, Virginia State Police observed a grey Ford Bronco moving at high speeds.

After eluding police and nearly crashing, Gonzalez was eventually pulled over, according to the complaint.

Gonzalez has been homeless for the past three months after more than a decade in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Iraq, authorities said.

Virginia State Police confirmed to ABC News that Gonzalez had a map of Washington, D.C., with a circle drawn around the White House, along with 11 different guns in his vehicle when he was arrested in July on charges of reckless driving, eluding police and possession of a sawed-off shotgun.

Virginia State Police also confirmed that they alerted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as well as the Secret Service about their arrest of Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was also stopped on Aug. 25 while walking along the south fence of the White House, prosecutors said. He had a hatchet in his rear waist band but was not arrested after he permitted a search of his car, which was parked nearby. Police found camping gear and two dogs but no ammo, prosecutors said.

Asked by a judge Monday whether Gonzalez needed a mental health eval, his lawyer said no.

The next court hearing has been set for Oct. 1.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

The Worst White House Security Breaches of All Time

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After Omar Gonzalez of Texas scaled the north fence and entered the White House Friday, the Secret Service immediately began clamping down on security protocols.

But this is hardly the first time an intruder has managed to gain access to the White House grounds, one of the most historic and seemingly secure places in the world.

Here's a look back at some of the most egregious breaches at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

July 1976: Chester Plummer

Armed with a 3-foot-long metal pipe, Chester Plummer, 30, climbed the 8-foot fence and advanced toward the White House in July 1976. After reportedly menacing a Secret Security agent, he was shot in the chest and died 90 minutes later.

October 1978: Anthony Henry

Dressed in a white karate uniform, Anthony Henry, 35, scaled the fence and charged the North Portico in an attempt to convince President Carter to remove the phrase “In God we trust” from U.S. currency. When officers approached, Henry adopted a karate stance and whipped a knife out of the Bible he was carrying. He slashed one officer in the face and another in the arm before being wrestled to the ground.

January 1985: Robert Latta

Just a few hours before President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985, Robert Latta, 45, sauntered into the White House with the Marine Corps band and wandered around for about 15 minutes before being apprehended by Secret Service.

September 1994: Frank Eugene Corder

In September 1994, during President Clinton's first term, former Army mechanic Frank Eugene Corder allegedly stole a single-engine Cessna airplane and crashed it on the South Lawn. The plane skidded across the lawn and slammed into a wall just below the presidential bedroom. Corder, reportedly intoxicated at the time, was the sole fatality.

October 1994: Francisco Martin Duran

About a month later, Francisco Martin Duran, 26, pulled a rifle from under his trench coat and opened fire, unleashing at least 29 rounds at the White House, where President Clinton was watching football. When he stopped to reload, passersby managed to tackle and subdue him. Duran later claimed he was attempting to save the world from an alien “mist.” He was convicted of attempted assassination and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

February 2001: Robert Pickett

In February 2001, Robert Pickett, a former IRS accountant with a history of mental illness, allegedly fired several shots outside the White House and then refused to drop his weapon, spurring a tense 10-minute standoff that ended when a Secret Service agent shot him in the knee. Just 700 feet away, President Bush was exercising in his private residence. Pickett, 47, was eventually sent to a Bureau of Prisons psychiatric hospital for treatment.

January 2005: Lowell Timmers

Angry that his daughter’s undocumented fiancé could be deported, Lowell Timmers, 54, threatened to blow up his van near the White House in January 2005. "I want my son, and I'm not leaving until my son-in-law is out of jail," Timmers reportedly told authorities during the ensuing four-and-a-half-hour standoff.  He eventually surrendered peacefully, and later pled guilty to making a false explosive threat. He told the court, however, that he couldn’t “rule out” the possibility that he would do it again, but “the odds of that happening are 800 million billion [sic] to one.”

November 2009: Tareq and Michaele Salahi

In what may have been the most glamorous breach in White House history, aspiring reality stars Tareq and Michaele Salahi managed to slip through two security checkpoints and into a White House state dinner, where they mingled with the president, vice president and chief of staff in November 2009. The pair, who publicly maintained they had been invited to the event, pled the Fifth at a congressional hearing examining the breach.

November 2011: Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez

Apparently fearful of an impending apocalypse, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez fired at least eight rounds at the White House from the window of his Honda Accord, striking the building several times and severely damaging its façade. President Obama, whom Ortega, 23, reportedly called “the anti-Christ,” was away at the time. Ortega fled the scene and was apprehended in a hotel room in Pennsylvania five days later. He eventually pled guilty to firing an assault weapon at the White House and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Authorities agreed to drop an assassination charge as part of a plea deal.

June 2013: Joseph Clifford Reel

In June 2013, Joseph Clifford Reel, 33, rigged his driverless Jeep to crash into the White House security gate, hoping it would create diversion and allow him to paint a “don’t tread on me” sign on an exterior wall of the White House. According to prosecutors, the Jeep had two machetes as well as hundreds of bullets and eight knives. No one was injured in the crash, and Reel was apprehended with a can of spray paint in the courtyard. In a manifesto posted online, Reel slammed the Obama administration, saying “Every once in a while, bad people take over. .?.?. And every once in a while, regular people have to get up and say, ‘No.’?” Reel, who claimed he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.

But not all the security snafus at the White House have been so serious. In perhaps the most adorable security breach to date, a 2-year-old squeezed through the bars of the north fence last month, spurring a lockdown and delaying the president’s impending address to the nation.

"We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him,” a Secret Service spokesman said, ”but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on way with parents.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

'Kissing Congressman' – and His Wife – Ask Louisiana Voters to Forgive

mcallister.house.gov(WASHINGTON) -- "Kissing congressman" Rep. Vance McAllister is back, and this time, he's with his wife.

McAllister, the Louisiana Republican who was caught on surveillance video passionately kissing a married woman on his staff, released a new TV commercial Monday. His wife, Kelly McAllister, is looking into his eyes, praising his character as she says: "I'm blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes."

The McAllisters' marriage was thrust into the spotlight in April after the compromising video of the congressman surfaced. Republican leaders in Louisiana and Washington urged him to resign, but he issued a public apology, asked for forgiveness and said he would let the voters of Louisiana's 5th Congressional District decide.

"Life is filled with ups and downs," McAllister says in the ad.

"But a man's character is based on how many times he gets back up and stands again," says Kelly McAllister.

As images of their children pass by on the screen, she reaches over to clasp his hand and shows her diamond ring, while he says he is "blessed with a great family and a wonderful Christian wife."

Then, she replies: "I'm blessed to have a husband who owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana."

In June, Kelly McAllister said she fully supported her husband's decision to run. But the ad released Monday, called "Blessed," marks the first time the couple has made the indiscretion a central part of the campaign.

McAllister, who won his congressional seat a year ago in a special election, now faces several challengers, including Zach Dasher, a nephew of Duck Dynasty TV star Phil Robertson. If none of the candidates win at least 50% of the vote on Nov. 4, the top two rivals face off in a runoff election in December.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

Holder Announces Grants to Prevent Deadly Domestic Violence

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the midst of high-profile domestic violence scandals, including that of ex-Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced grants totalling $2.6 million to go towards preventing deadly domestic violence.

The pilot program will be implemented at four sites in the U.S. to help identify people so violent they could kill their partner. The goal of the program is to anticipate lethal behavior and stop it.

In a video message, Holder said, "This Administration, this Department of Justice - and I personally - will not waver in that effort: to shine a light on violence and abuse."

Three women die every day in the U.S. at the hands of their partner or ex-partner, a statistic Holder calls shocking.

"We've come a long way since the time when these incidents of abuse were considered private household matters but we have a ways to go still," Holder said.

The pilot program will begin in Pitt County, N.C.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Contra Costa County, Calif.; and Brooklyn, N.Y.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

Elizabeth Warren Rouses Emily's List, But They Talk About Hillary

warren.senate.gov(NEW YORK) -- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren lit up a crowd of Democratic activists and donors Monday, speaking at a fundraiser for a powerful group that backs women candidates, just across town at the same time Hillary Clinton kicked off the Clinton Foundation's annual Clinton Global Initiative conference.

Warren received two standing ovations from the group of women at Emily's List, but it was clear Clinton was on their mind.

"This is an exciting time and we at Emily's List, we know and we believe we will have a woman running for president in 2016," Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock said to cheers from the crowd right before Warren took the stage. "We sure hope that Secretary Clinton takes the time she needs, but we also sure hope she takes this on because we are ready. We are ready."

The former secretary of state has said she will make up her mind by the end of this year. Warren has said repeatedly, "I am not running for president," choosing not to expand on whether she could run in the future. Warren is very popular with the progressive left of the Democratic Party, many of whom remain unsure about Clinton. The group "Ready for Warren" launched to encourage her to run, mimicking the "Ready for Hillary" campaign that has brought in millions and is well organized across the country. Warren disavowed the Ready for Warren group, but it hasn’t stopped her supporters from hoping she changes her mind.

After Warren spoke, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow also mentioned Clinton, saying she "really hope(s) I can call her something else…I think Madam President sounds awfully good."

Warren headlined the fundraiser Monday at the Mandarin Oriental, where she spoke about the fast-approaching midterm elections and the importance of recruiting female Democratic candidates.

"It truly matters and it matters not just because women win. It matters because it means we have a seat at the table," Warren said to the over 300 attendees. "And everybody in this room knows the basic rule, if you don't have a seat at the table, you are probably on the menu."

Over the next three days, Clinton, alongside her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea, will engage in moderated discussions and panels with key global leaders, including announcing a large commitment regarding secondary education for girls around the world.

At a CGI event Sunday night, the former president called Warren an "important part" of the Democratic Party’s future because of her signature message of giving Americans "an equal shot at prosperity."

Monday, Warren roused the crowd, speaking about reproductive rights and income equity, saying to applause, "Women have an opportunity to change, to change the government, to change the direction this country goes…we have a chance, but we have to fight for it and me, I'm out there fighting for it."

She mentioned the several Senate female incumbents and challengers who are in tough November fights, including Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, and Michelle Nunn in Georgia.

"We are here and we are going to change this country, our voices will be heard," she said. "There is so much at stake in this election…women across this country our going to make a difference."

In a lighter moment, Warren noted the "terrible parts about running for office," including negative ads.

"Where do they get those pictures of you? I don't look that bad when I first wake up in the morning," Warren said. "And the creepy music. There was one ad that seemed to suggest I was going to eat voters' brains."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

Donald Trump Twitter Gaffe Sends Sen. Mitch McConnell to House

Robin Marchant/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump has never been shy when it comes to backing Republican politicians.

The businessman took to his Twitter account on Monday to call Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Grimes a “rookie,” while he voiced his support for Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell. But in his enthusiasm, he moved McConnell to the other chamber of Congress.

Sen. McConnell is currently the Senate Minority Leader, and if re-elected to what some are predicting will be a Republican-majority Senate after the midterm elections, he could become the Senate Majority Leader, not Speaker of the House.

The gaffe quickly became fodder for ridicule from pundits as well as McConnell’s challenger.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

First Lady to Campaign with Mary Burke in Milwaukee

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Michelle Obama will appear in Milwaukee next Monday with Mary Burke, the Democratic candidate for governor, the Burke campaign tells ABC News.

The exact time and location of the “grassroots campaign event” are to be determined, said Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki.

Burke is running neck-and-neck with Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the race, but has recently dealt with plagiarism charges.

Buzzfeed first reported that a number of passages in Burke’s job plan were lifted from other campaigns, and followed up this weekend with new examples in different plans.

The Burke campaign has blamed the cut-and-paste on a consultant they have since fired.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep222014

Obama Has Confidence in Secret Service, White House Says

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Reacting to Friday’s security breach in which a U.S. veteran scaled a perimeter fence at the White House and made it all the way into the building, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday said President Obama is “obviously concerned” by the incident but added that the president “continues to have complete confidence” in the Secret Service.

“I had the opportunity to speak briefly with the president about it earlier today. He did indicate, as you would expect, his family lives in the White House, and so he is obviously concerned by the incident that occurred on Friday evening,” Earnest said.

“Providing security at the White House is complicated business,” he said, pointing to its dual role as a government office building and popular tourist destination. “The Secret Service has the challenging task of balancing the need to ensure the safety and security of the first family, while also ensuring that the White House continues to be the People’s House. And balancing those equities is challenging work, but it’s clear that in this case a review of that work is warranted and that review will be conducted.”

Earnest said the ongoing review is studying the positioning of tactical and non-tactical assets inside and outside the fence line, but Obama is “confident that the reforms that are determined to be necessary will be implemented in the proper way.”

“It will include a review of technical or physical security enhancements that may be necessary to improve security at the White House. It will also include a question about ongoing staffing and an assessment about whether or not additional staffing is needed,” Earnest said.

He added that the Secret Service will review its policy and procedures “related to the assessment of threats” and go over its previous interactions with the suspect.

Earnest refused to say whether Obama personally favors building a higher fence or further restricting access near the White House, but added that Obama and several senior administration officials were briefed “multiple times on the actual incident” over the weekend, and that a number of changes to the security posture have already been implemented in the “immediate aftermath” of the incident.

“The Secret Service has beefed up foot patrols along -- around the fence line of the White House complex,” Earnest said. “The Secret Service has deployed additional surveillance resources to beef up the surveillance around the White House. The Secret Service has changed the procedures for ensuring that the entrance to the White House is secure, and there is already some stepped-up training for officers who are essentially standing on the front lines of the White House to ensure that they are aware of the policies and procedures that are related to securing the White House and dealing with incidents like the one that we saw on Friday.”


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