States already moving to derail carbon cutbacks

As President Barack Obama prepares to announce tougher new air quality standards, lawmakers in several states already are trying to blunt the impact on aging coal-fired power plants that feed electricity to millions of consumers. The Obama administration on Monday will roll out a plan to cut earth-warming pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030, further diminishing coal’s role in U.S. electricity production in the process. The Environmental Protection Agency refused to confirm the details of the proposal Sunday. People familiar with the proposal shared the details on condition of anonymity, since they had not been officially released.
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Republicans claim Obama broke law to free soldier

Two Republican lawmakers on Saturday accused President Barack Obama of breaking the law by approving the release of five Afghan detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for a U.S. soldier believed held by Islamist insurgents for five years. The White House agreed that actions were taken in spite of legal requirements and cited “unique and exigent circumstances” as justification. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, of Hailey, Idaho, was handed over to U.S. special operations forces by the Taliban. In return, five Afghans who were held at a U.S. detention facility in Cuba were released to the custody of the
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Obama wants more rules on power plants

President Barack Obama launched a show of support Friday for new emissions rules for power plants, putting the weight of the White House behind the government’s controversial strategy for combating climate change. Three days before his administration is set to unveil the first carbon dioxide limits on existing plants, Obama paid a surprise visit to a children’s hospital and met with young asthma patients, hoping to call attention to the health effects of air pollution. He also talked up the need to curb carbon pollution during a hurricane preparedness briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters. “The changes we’re seeing
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VA boss Shinseki resigns under fire

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday in a personal meeting with President Barack Obama, shortly after publicly apologizing for deep problems plaguing the agency’s health care system that Obama called “totally unacceptable.” Obama said he accepted the retired four-star general’s resignation “with considerable regret” during an Oval Office meeting. Shinseki had been facing mounting calls to step down from lawmakers in both parties since a scathing internal report out Wednesday found broad and deep-seated problems in the sprawling health care system, which provides medical care to about 6.5 million veterans annually. Obama said Shinseki had served with honor, but
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Obama calls for more mentors for minority boys

President Barack Obama is calling on all Americans to get involved with his push to reverse underachievement among young minority men by getting involved with mentorship and tutoring programs. The White House call is an outgrowth of Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program, which the president initiated in February to help try to reverse some of the challenges facing black, Hispanic and Native American boys and young men. Obama discussed an initial “My Brother’s Keeper” progress report with his Cabinet on Thursday and on Friday will “call on all in his administration and adults all across America to commit to mentor
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Obama touts energy policy as new rules loom

Setting the stage for upcoming restrictions on coal-fired power plants, the Obama administration is making a concerted effort to cast its energy policy as an economic success that is creating jobs, securing the nation against international upheavals and shifting energy use to cleaner sources. In a 42-page report to be released Thursday, the White House argues that significant increases in the domestic production of natural gas and reductions in oil consumption have better positioned the United States to advance its economic and environmental goals. Few of the report’s conclusions are new, but it includes a detailed analysis of how past
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Can Obama recast America’s postwar foreign policy?

As the nation emerges from more than a decade of war, President Barack Obama is seeking to recast U.S. foreign policy as an endeavor aimed at building international consensus and avoiding unilateral overreach. Obama’s new approach includes $5 billion to help other countries fight terrorism and to expand funding for Defense Department intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, special operations and other activities. Obama was to outline his plans Wednesday during a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The speech comes one day after the president put forward a blueprint for ending U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan
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Congress wants Obama to get in Russia’s face

Congress is stepping up pressure on the White House to confront Russia over allegations that it is cheating on a key nuclear arms treaty — a faceoff that could further strain U.S.-Moscow relations and dampen President Barack Obama’s hopes to add deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals to his legacy. Butting heads with Russian President Vladimir Putin over compliance with a 26-year-old treaty to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons is not something that fits into Obama’s “reset” with Russia, which already was stalled after Russia granted asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
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Obama leads nation in celebrating Memorial Day

President Barack Obama led the nation in commemorating Memorial Day, declaring the United States has reached “a pivotal moment” in Afghanistan with the end of war approaching. Obama, who returned just hours earlier from a surprise visit with U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, paid tribute to those lost in battle there and elsewhere over history. He called them “patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice” for their country. “Early this morning, I returned from Afghanistan,” Obama told the audience of several thousand people. “Yesterday, I visited with some of our men and women serving there — 7,000 miles
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Obama set to propose limited U.S. foreign policy

Confronting critics of his foreign policy, President Barack Obama will soon outline a strategy for his final years in office that aims to avoid overreach as the second of the two wars he inherited comes to a close. The president will make the case for that seemingly more limited approach during a commencement address Wednesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The speech will come amid growing frustration in the White House with Republicans and other critics who contend that Obama has weakened America’s standing around the world and faltered on problems across the Middle East and in
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