Sarah Palin to Launch Multi-State Bus Tour

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin announced on Thursday that she'll embark on an East Coast bus tour, kicking off Sunday, May 29 in Washington, D.C. and going up the northeast coast.

Called the One Nation Tour, a post on the website of Palin's political action committee said the former governor of Alaska will visit "historical sites that were key to the formation, survival, and growth of the United States of America."

Its goal, according to a message on the SarahPAC site, is "to educate and energize Americans about our nation's founding principles, in order to promote the Fundamental Restoration of America."

The bus boasts a triumphant One Nation Tour logo, a rendition of the constitution, Palin's signature and a quintessential American landscape.

The tour is the latest sign pointing to a possible Palin run for presidency, on top of reports that she's reshuffled her staff of aides, bought a house in Arizona, and supports a documentary about her that's due out next month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Christie Pulls New Jersey Out of Greenhouse Program

Governor's Office/Tim Larsen(TRENTON, N.J) -- On Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced that he is withdrawing New Jersey's membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

RGGI, a regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has a membership of 10 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

"Our analysis of the RegionalGreenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) reveals that this program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future, in other words the whole system is not working as it was intended to work, it's a failure," said Christie at a news conference.

Christie has been under pressure from conservative groups to pull out of the so-called "cap and trade" program. However, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a poll on Thursday which shows that a majority of New Jersey residents support programs that focus on curbing climate change. NRDC found that 47 percent of respondents said that pulling out of RGGI was inconsistent with Gov. Christie’s stated commitment to the clean energy sector.

The RGGI responded to the withdrawal:

"RGGI CO2 Allowance Auction 12 will be held as scheduled on Wednesday, June 8, 2011," read the statement.  "Based on information provided by the state of New Jersey, the participating states will evaluate how New Jersey's proposed withdrawal might affect New Jersey allowances currently in circulation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Democrats Will Retake House in 2012, DNC Chair Claims

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Six months after Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz thinks voters have seen enough and are ready to return Democrats to power.

"The election results of the past two weeks of special elections really bode well for Democrats chances up and down the ticket in 2012," Wasserman Schultz told reporters Thursday.

The election last week of an African-American Democratic mayor in Jacksonville, Fla., a staunchly conservative city, a Democratic state representative in a conservative New Hampshire District, and a Democratic U.S. Representative from the solidly-red 26th district of New York are all indicators Democrats have momentum, she said. 

"All of those elections turned on the hardcore, radical, right-wing agenda that the Republicans have given us a preview of if they were given total control of all branches of government," said Wasserman Schultz. "And the voters have resoundingly rejected those overtures, their agenda."

"The reason that we believe that this is an indicator that we will continue to make progress and re-take majority of the House and re-elect the president is that the voters got a glimpse of what it would be like under Republican control," she said. "And they don't like it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rosalynn Carter Advocates for Older Americans Act

Rick Diamond/The Carter Center(WASHINGTON) -- Former first lady Rosalynn Carter was on Capitol Hill Thursday to advocate on behalf of the older generation, urging Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which provides seniors with access to care giving services.

Carter's personal stake in the OAA stems from her early years as a caregiver for her father. At the age of twelve, Carter, the oldest of four children, joined her mother in caring for her father, who was diagnosed with leukemia, and her grandfather who was bedridden in the late years of his life.

"I still vividly remember going to my secret hiding place, the outdoor privy, to cry," Carter was scheduled to say, according to written testimony to the Senate Special Committee on Aging. "I was the oldest child, I felt the burden of needing to help care for my father and my three younger siblings; yet I was scared and didn't always feel like being strong."

The former first lady also established the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving in Georgia, which supports caregivers and their loved ones dealing with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

Originally enacted in 1965, The Older Americans Act devised programs to ensure communities have the means to develop social services for older people.

Carter's advocacy comes as Congress debates cuts in the Medicare program and new Census data reveals men are narrowing the female advantage gap, particularly in older generations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Patriot Act Passes Key Vote

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate on Thursday voted to pass three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, but the provisions could still lapse at the end of the day if Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky insists on 30 hours of debate before allowing a final vote.

On the back of resounding bipartisan support, the four-year extension survived the procedural vote by a count of 79-18.

The Patriot Act extensions continue powers for investigators in national security cases to conduct "roving" wiretaps, seek certain business records, and gather intelligence on lone terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group.

The problem is not support, however, but time. The provisions are set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Once the Senate passes them, they will still have to be approved by the House. That is why the bill’s chief advocates, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, have cautioned that time is of the essence. If Congress does not reauthorize the provisions in time, then "that is not good for the world," Reid warned Wednesday evening.

What will happen next is unclear. The Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, emphasized that "nothing in this extension has ever been found to be unconstitutional," telling his colleagues that it is "absolutely imperative" that they pass the extension. But the Senate can only waive some of the 30 hours of debate if every senator agrees to do so, including Paul.

"If one person wants to be a demagogue, he can do that," Reid said Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Taxpayer Money Spent on Shrimp on Treadmills

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- You've probably heard of shrimp on the barbie, but what about shrimp on a treadmill?

The National Science Foundation has, and it spent $500,000 of taxpayer money researching it.  It's not entirely clear what this research hoped to establish, but it's one of a number of projects cited in a scathing new report from Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, exclusively obtained by ABC News.

It's not just shrimp on a treadmill.  The foundation spent $1.5 million to create a robot that can fold laundry.  But before you try to buy one to save some time, consider that it takes the robot 25 minutes to fold a single towel.

The list goes on.  Lots of people love to use FarmVille on Facebook, but lots of people probably don't love the government's spending $300,000 in taxpayer money to study whether it helps build personal relationships.

"What it says to me is, they have too much money if they're going to spend money on things like that," Coburn said in an interview.

But there's more.  The National Science Foundation has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, just across the river from Washington, D.C., a building it pays $19 million a year to rent.  But now that the 20-year lease is nearly up, it has decided that it is time to move; into a new building that will cost $26 million annually to rent.

Even gelatin wrestling has been the subject of an agency project -- in Antarctica, no less.  The foundation notes that the project is the work of contractors, not agency employees.

Whatever the case might be, Coburn said, the situation is another example that federal spending has gotten out of control.

"We have 12 different agencies doing pure research, and we're duplicating and we're not sharing the information across and it's siloed," he said.

In response to Coburn's report, the National Science Foundation launched a vigorous defense of its projects.  Agency officials said they "have advanced the frontiers of science and engineering, improved Americans' lives, and provided the foundations for countless new industries and jobs."

And the facts back up that statement.  One agency project helped lead to the creation of Google, while another led to the invention of bar codes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Heads to France for G8 Summit

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(DEAUVILLE, France) -- After spending two days in London, President Obama will continue his European trip Thursday in Deauville, France, where he will attend the G8 summit.

Before the summit, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Medvedev at the Hotel Royal Barriere in Deauville.

"One of the core foreign policy objectives when we came into office was the Russia reset," Deputy National Security Advisors for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes said. "It has been one of the most productive relationships for the United States in terms of the signing and ratification of the new START treaty, cooperation on nuclear security, cooperation with regard to Iran sanctions and nonproliferation generally, the Northern Distribution Network into Afghanistan that supports our effort there, and our discussions with Russia about expanding trade ties and their interest in joining the WTO, as well as Russia's increased cooperation with NATO that was manifested by the NATO-Russia meetings in Lisbon."

Afterward, President Obama will be officially welcomed by French President Sarkozy, the host of the summit in his country.  The leaders will then attend G8 working sessions in the afternoon.

In the G8 meetings there will be a discussion of the situation in Japan, "expressing solidarity with the people of Japan, and a discussion of nuclear safety, nuclear power safety more generally," Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs said.

There will be a discussion of the global economy and "the situation of the global recovery and risks to that global recovery, as well a dialogue around trade and climate change and advancing those agendas."

Obama will then hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kan at the Hotel Royal Barriere where they will discuss Japan's post-earthquake recovery.

Obama will wrap up his day attending a dinner with G8 leaders at Le Ciro's Barriere Restaurant.  He will spend the night in Deauville.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Rep. Paul Ryan Stands His Ground on Medicare Reform

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of Tuesday's stunning Republican defeat in New York special Congressional election, Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan says he is determined to fight for his Medicare plan even if it ruins his political career.

"I don't care about that," Ryan said in an interview with ABC News.  "Now is not that time to be worried about political careers.  Sincerely, I will be fine if I lose my House seat because you know what?  I will know I did what I thought was right to save this country from fiscal ruin."

In fact, Ryan told ABC News that Republicans should be fighting for his Medicare plan as part of the current talks with the White House over raising the debt ceiling.

"It is part of these debt ceiling talks," Ryan said.  "We're the ones who actually put the specifics on the table -- $6.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years.  We put a budget up -- we passed a budget, brought it to the table.  Where are we now?  It's been 754 days since the Senate Democrats proposed, yet alone, passed a budget.  They're not offering any solutions, putting nothing on the table."

Ryan's plan would replace the current Medicare program with a program that allows seniors to choose from a menu of government-subsidized private insurance plans.  The changes would not go into effect until 2021 and would not affect anybody who is now over age 55. That fact isn't stopping leading Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of telling the public that Ryan's plan attempts to "kill Medicare."

The plan was a major issue in Tuesday's special election in the solidly Republican 26th Congressional District of New York.  Republican Jane Corwin supported Ryan's plan; Democrat Kathy Hochul prevailed after attacking the plan as an attempt to destroy Medicare.  A third candidate running as a "Tea Party" candidate was also a factor, likely siphoning Republican votes.

Does Paul Ryan feel any responsibility for the stunning Republican defeat in the New York special Congressional election on Tuesday?  Not at all.

"The president and his party, they basically decided to medi-scare.  They decided to shamelessly demagogue and distort what we're proposing to try and scare seniors to get votes," Ryan said.  "It did work to scare seniors.  Now I believe that in a year and a half time that we have, that facts are going to get out and people are going to understand this problem."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Provisions of Patriot Act Set to Expire at Midnight

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congress has until midnight Thursday to renew several provisions of the Patriot Act, the country's counterterrorism law that was passed after 9/11.

If passed, the measure would extend powers for investigators in national security cases to conduct roving wiretaps, seek certain business records, and gather intelligence on "lone wolf" suspected terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says intelligence officials need to catch so-called "lone wolf" terrorists and those using throw-away phones.

"The bill is essential to what we do to protect ourselves," Reid says.

He has been frustrated by delays in opposition from Republican freshman Rand Paul of Kentucky, who wants changes that he says are needed to better protect Americans constitutional rights.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Donald Trump to Write Tome About Politics

Bill Clark/Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- He may be out of the presidential race, at least for now, but Donald Trump's not done with politics. 

The billionaire businessman announced Wednesday that he'll release a book this fall about how America can become a "great nation." Trump's releasing his tome through Regnery Publishing, which specializes in conservative books.

In a statement obtained by the blog Newsmax, Marji Ross, Regnery's president, said Trump "has proved to be a remarkably powerful force in American politics. Mr. Trump’s message -- that America, once the most powerful nation on Earth, has lost the respect of the world -- clearly resonates with millions of Americans who are angry about the decline of our great nation. We are honored he has chosen us to publish his book.”

Trump returned the love, saying in a statement, "Anyone who’s worked with me knows, I only deal with the best, and for this book, that’s Regnery...they know how to publish political and current affairs books better than anyone else."

Trump has authored several successful books, including The Art of the Deal and How to Get Rich, but his as-yet untitled work with Regnery will be his first foray into political writing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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