Archives for News

More problems for the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service, already under fire after officials disclosed that the agency targeted conservative groups, faces increased scrutiny because of an inspector general’s report that it spent about $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012. The report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general about conference spending is set to be released Tuesday. The department issued a statement Sunday saying the administration “has already taken aggressive and dramatic action to reduce conference spending.” The White House and the agency were on the defensive before the report on conference spending. Agency officials and the
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Immigration bill expected to pass Senate by July 4

A lawmaker who helped negotiate a bipartisan bill to overhaul immigration predicted on Sunday that comprehensive legislation would overwhelmingly pass the Senate by July 4 while House Republicans cautioned that they would write their own version, one piece at a time. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he anticipates as many as 70 of the 100 senators will vote for the measure heading to the full Senate on June 10. Even if it passes there, the proposal faces tough prospects in the Republican-led House, where lawmakers are at work on their own piecemeal approach that could stall a pathway to citizenship
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Obama, actors work to reduce stigma of mental illness

Actors Bradley Cooper and Glenn Close are among those gathering Monday at the White House for a conference on mental health, organized as part of President Barack Obama’s response to last year’s shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. Although the one-day conference was a response to gun violence, its agenda is much broader and includes discussion of insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse, recognizing the signs of mental illness in young people and improved access to services for veterans. The overall goal is reducing the stigma of mental health problems and encouraging those who are struggling
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Political passion takes a holiday

Four years after the summer of rage that fueled the tea party movement, the political circuit is much quieter — even in Republican bastions like this. It’s not clear whether conservatives who rallied against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul during raucous town hall-style meetings are tired, wary, complacent or simply saving their strength for a big push in next year’s elections. Whatever the reason, the more muted tone was palpable as conservative lawmakers in South Carolina fanned out across their state to meet with constituents this week during the first congressional break since the disclosure that the Internal Revenue
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Hagel deals with Vietnam memories on Asia trip

Forty-five years ago, as the Vietnam war raged on, Army Spc. Chuck Hagel and Nguyen Tan Dung were on opposite sides of combat serving in the Mekong Delta — both wounded more than once as they battled for their countries. This weekend the two men — now America’s defense secretary and Vietnam’s prime minister — met at a formal dinner at the start of an international security conference here, working to help build America’s growing military partnership with Vietnam. Hagel’s first trip to Asia as Pentagon chief has been a bit of a walk down memory lane for the former
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Republicans discover small government is not always better

One major principle of Barack Obama’s presidency that his foes love to hate — that government, when it works right, can be best-equipped to aid and protect Americans — is finding fresh currency among some Republicans. Their doctrine that smaller government is better government is being tested by pressing needs in storm-battered states, security threats that play up the need for a robust defense apparatus and offers for federal funds that are tough to turn down. To be sure, conservatives looking to pare the government have had their pick of examples to make Obama the poster boy for overreaching, bloated
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Sexual assault probe underway at Naval Academy

The U.S. Naval Academy is investigating allegations that three football team members sexually assaulted a female midshipman at an off-campus house more than a year ago, a Pentagon spokesman said Friday, and a lawyer for the woman says she was “ostracized” on campus after she reported it. The Pentagon did not make public the names of the players, and the school’s athletic director referred questions to a Naval Academy spokesman, who said the Annapolis military college’s leaders were monitoring the investigation but declined further comment. Navy criminal investigators have concluded their work and submitted a report with additional corroborating evidence
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Obama claims to see signs of strength in economy

President Barack Obama says the economy is showing new signs of strength. He’s pointing to the auto industry, new jobs and a recovering housing market as signs of progress. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama calls on Congress to do more to ensure that progress continues. He’s asking lawmakers to invest in roads and bridges, pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul and let homeowners save money by refinancing at low interest rates. Obama says there’s reason to be optimistic about the country’s direction, but there are more jobs to create and more kids to educate. In the Republican address,
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Consumer spending down amid slowdown in economy

Consumer spending fell in April for the first time in almost a year and inflation pressures were subdued, pointing to a slowdown in economic activity, which should allow the Federal Reserve to maintain its monetary stimulus for a while. The Commerce Department said on Friday consumer spending fell 0.2 percent, the weakest reading since May last year, after edging up 0.1 percent in March. Economists had expected a 0.1 percent gain. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, was held down by weak demand for utilities and a drop in receipts at gasoline stations on
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Threatening letters spotlight Bloomberg’s role in gun control debate

A suspicious letter mailed to the White House was similar to two threatening, poison-laced letters on the gun law debate sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation’s most potent gun-control advocates, officials said Thursday. The Secret Service said the letter was addressed to President Barack Obama and was intercepted by a White House mail screening facility. Two similar letters postmarked in Louisiana and sent to Bloomberg in New York and his gun control group in Washington contained traces of the deadly poison ricin. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the letter sent to Obama contained ricin. It
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