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NEWS   WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2015   NEWS

Senators Announce Deal On Anti-Trafficking Bill, Clearing Way For Vote On AG Nominee
Senate leaders say they have reached a deal that could allow for a long-delayed vote in the coming days on the nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general. The nomination has been held up amid a bitter dispute on Capitol Hill over an anti-human trafficking bill. But leaders on Tuesday announced a bipartisan proposal, which could in turn allow for Lynch's nomination to be taken up soon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that "as soon as" they finish the trafficking bill, they'll move to the attorney general vote -- "hopefully in the next day or so." Though Lynch faces heavy Republican opposition in her bid to succeed Eric Holder at the helm of the Justice Department, she may have just enough support to clear the 60-vote threshold and secure confirmation from the Senate. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Republicans must reject confirmation of Lynch.

Clinton Campaign Chair Talks 2016 With Senate Democrats
Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta met with Senate Democrats Tuesday at their weekly policy lunch meeting, telling a reporter he was there to "re-introduce himself" to the upper chamber's Democratic caucus. Widely regarded as a wily veteran of liberal politics, Podesta also served as President Bill Clinton's chief of staff during the final two years of his presidency. Most recently he served as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, a post he stepped down from in February. Responding to a question as he was walking into the meeting, Podesta said he was there to introduce campaign staff to the senators at the meeting, and discuss potential strategy for the upcoming campaign. Democrats are eager to regain control of the Senate after losing it to Republicans in 2014. CNN

Farm Bill Done Wrong Would Be An ‘Assault On Our Health’
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) touted the benefits of the farm bill at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, saying that if it’s done wrong it is “an assault on our health.” “This is the most important environmental bill that most Americans have ever heard of, much less think about,” said the congressman. “If it’s done right, it will promote health, community, economic development. Done wrong, it misallocates economic resources, endangers the environment and is an assault on health. “I have been obsessed with the notion that as a country we pay too much to the wrong people to grow the wrong food in the wrong places often in inappropriate methods,” said Blumenauer. “Life is short. We’ve got major problems that we need to deal with from climate change, the impacts of drought in states like California. We’re deeply concerned about hunger, food insecurity. CNS News

DEA Chief  To Step Down, Congress Probes Sex Party Leaks
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's chief will step down within weeks, the Obama administration said on Tuesday, as a congressional panel planned to examine whether DEA agents divulged secrets at sex parties that Colombian drug lords may have staged. Michele Leonhart will leave as DEA administrator in mid-May, said a statement from the Justice Department, which contains the DEA and other major law enforcement agencies. "I want to express my appreciation to Michele, not only for her leadership of the DEA since 2007, but also for her 35 years of extraordinary service to the DEA," Attorney General Eric Holder said in the statement. Leonhart was grilled in a congressional hearing last week about the parties attended by prostitutes, which took place in Colombia between 2001 and 2005. U.S. officials said the DEA did not investigate the parties until years later. Reuters

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As Hillary Clinton Begins Campaign, Impact Of Gender Remains Key Questi
Hillary Clinton is not a new face on the political scene, but her 2016 presidential campaign offers something never before seen: The first woman candidate for either major party to enter the fray as the prohibitive favorite for the nomination. Should she win the Democratic nod, as widely expected, the historic nature of her candidacy could fundamentally alter the way we think of Democratic and Republican voter groups. Or, the data suggest, maybe not. The bulk of poll data clearly shows that gender matters at election time - men and women tend to vote differently, with women much more likely to favor Democratic candidates. What is less clear, however, is how much the gender of a candidate matters. MSNBC

Sen. David Vitter Pressures GOP Colleagues Ahead Of Vote To Subpoena Obamacare Records
Republican Sen. David Vitter pressed colleagues Tuesday to back his bid to subpoena the D.C. health exchange for records that could shed light on how the city agreed to link Congress with Obamacare plans. Mr. Vitter, a Louisianan who chairs the Senate’s small-business committee, will hold a vote Thursday on whether to force D.C. Health Link to cough up un-redacted pages from Congress‘ application to use the Obamacare exchange, or “SHOP,” that the District set up for its small businesses. For months Mr. Vitter has tried to find out who signed the application papers at House and Senate personnel offices, although D.C. officials argue privacy laws have compelled them to black out the names. Washington Times

US Navy Ships Likely Will Not Board Iranian Ships Headed To Yemen
U.S. officials are downplaying the idea that U.S. Navy ships will intercept or board a convoy of nine Iranian ships suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen. Officials say the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was moved closer to Yemen because of the deteriorating security situation in that country and to ensure that shipping lanes remain open. “The USS Roosevelt along with (the cruiser) USS Normandy are operating in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden with the very clear mission to ensure that shipping lanes remain open to ensure there is freedom of navigation through those critical waterways and to help ensure maritime security,” said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. ABC

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‘Concerned 8-Year-Old Citizen’ To Michelle Obama: ‘Your Husband Needs To Work On His Speeches’
A precocious 8-year-old boy named Peter has a list of concerns for Michelle Obama, starting with her strict rules on school lunches. The boy’s father submitted to The Weekly Standard a letter that took his son six months to write to the first lady, because he was just “too angry” to pen it in one sitting, the father said. “It all started because he saw something about school lunches [and] how ketchup is bad for you, and that Michelle Obama wants to limit the amount of ketchup” in schools, the father told The Weekly Standard. When the boy’s mother reminded him he attends a private school, “He said something about wanting to ‘give a voice to the voiceless.’” Washington Times

White House Won't Say If Hillary Clinton Is Right That Small Businesses Have 'Stalled Out'
Pressed by ABC's Jon Karl at the daily briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to respond directly to Clinton's comment on the state of the economy. "We'll take a look at the statistics and get back to you," Earnest said. Speaking in New Hampshire yesterday, Clinton said that "I want to be sure we get small businesses starting and growing in America again. We have stalled out. I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it. Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn't know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to." ABC

Bug In 1,000 Apps Could Open Apple Devices To Hacking
A "major security flaw" has been identified in a piece of networking software that could leave users of about 1,000 apps vulnerable to hacking. Cybersecurity firm SourceDNA discovered that an oversight in a particular version of the AFNetworking software, which is used by 100,000 apps for iPhones, iPods and iPads, would allow hackers to easily bypass the SSL security certificate intended to protect users while online. That means, SourceDNA wrote on its blog Monday, "the proverbial coffee shop attacker could easily bypass SSL and see all your app's user credentials and banking data." The flaw doesn't affect all 100,000 apps that use AFNetworking. SourceDNA figured out that out of 20,000 iOS apps that were updated with potentially vulnerable code, about 1,000 actually contained the flaw, including apps from major companies, such as Microsoft and Uber. CBS

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That Dog Won't Hunt: Cops Can't Keep You Waiting For K-9s, Supreme Court Says
Cops can't continue to hold a suspect without probable cause even for the few minutes they might need to wait for a drug-sniffing dog to show up, the Supreme Court said Tuesday. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the 6-3 majority that if a traffic stop is otherwise completed, holding on to the suspect any longer violates the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The case, Rodriguez v. United States, involves the valid traffic stop of Dennys Rodriguez after he swerved over a highway shoulder line in Valley, Nebraska, in March 2012. Once Officer Morgan Struble had completed writing a warning, he then kept Rodriguez by the side of the road for seven or eight minutes waiting for the dog to show up and sniff the car for possible drugs. MSNBC

New App Wipes Out Your Biggest Social Media Mistakes
Ethan Czahor knows the reputation-killing power of a bad tweet. When he got his dream job working as the CTO of Jeb Bush's political operations, his social media past came back to haunt him. When someone found a bunch of jokes that he had tried out on Twitter years earlier while studying improv comedy in California, Czahor was fired. "Unfortunately, my Twitter feed was unearthed, spun completely out of context to make me appear as someone I am certainly not, and I lost my job," he wrote. He created an app, Clear, "to make sure situations like mine never happen to anyone ever again." CBS

A Surge In Imports Proves The U.S. Economy's Global Dominance Right Now
For drought-stricken California, March was less about any kind of precipitation from Mother Nature and more about the virtual flood of imported cargo. Container ships steamed into West Coast ports last month after the end of a labor dispute, a situation that may soon play out in U.S. trade data. And while the resulting surge in imports may be short-lived, it could still depress first-quarter growth — especially when combined with a smaller gain in exports that underscores America's role as the biggest ship in the waters of the global economy. Bloomberg

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Clinton Hedges On Hot-Button Trade Deal, Amid Pressure From Left
Hillary Clinton is hedging on whether she will back a bipartisan trade agreement gaining steam on Capitol Hill, fueling accusations that she is playing politics as she courts liberal voters. The agreement is backed by President Obama and hailed by Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill as a way to improve the economy and create jobs by expanding U.S. markets for goods and services. But it is opposed by leading progressives, including figures talked about as possible competitors in the Democratic presidential primary - among them, Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, and Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. Fox News

US Needs 'To Take Another Look At NAFTA,' Christie Says
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie expressed support Tuesday for free trade deals but argued that the United States should revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Speaking at the 45th annual Washington Conference on the Americas, an event hosted at the State Department by the Council of the Americas, the Republican said he backs giving President Barack Obama trade promotion authority, which would let the President fast-track certain trade deals. It's a rare issue on which Republicans largely agree with Obama, but Christie stressed that such authority also must come with "confidence in the people who are negotiating the agreements." Christie also said the government needs "to take another look" at NAFTA, but did not go into specifics about what needs to be changed. CNN

AG Nominee Defending Partial-Birth Abortion: 'The Phrase "Living Fetus"' Is 'Hopelessly Vague'
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch joined a group of former U.S. attorneys in signing an amicus brief presented to the Supreme Court in 2006 in the case of Gonzales v. Carhart that argued that the federal ban on partial-birth abortion was unconstitutional because its language was too vague. In their brief, for example, Lynch and the other former U.S. attorneys argued that the term “living fetus” was too vague to be understood by those responsible for following and enforcing the law. Congress enacted the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2003 with broad bipartisan support. Senators Joe Biden of Delaware, Harry Reid of Nevada, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont all voted for it. CNS News

US Top Diplomat Kerry To Host Japan PM In Boston
John Kerry will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) in the secretary of state's hometown of Boston, as the Asian nation's leader starts a weeklong U.S. visit Sunday. Kerry will then travel to New York for talks on Monday between the top diplomats and defense officials of the U.S. and Japan, also involving Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Abe's visit is expected to focus on deepening defense and trade ties between the United States and its close ally, Japan. Abe is due to meet President Barack Obama and become the first Japanese leader to address a joint meeting of Congress. On Monday, Kerry will also visit the United Nations to address a conference reviewing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. UPI

Marijuana Smokers More Prone To False Memories
Stoners don't make for good eye witnesses. According to new research, their accounts are more likely to be plagued by false memories. Previous research has shown that long-term cannabis use can impair a person's short- and long-term memory. But the latest study -- published in the Journal of Molecular Biology -- proves pot smokers are more likely to supplement their faulty memory with false ones. Researchers proved as much using word games to test smokers' memory skills. Study participants were first shown lists of words and asked to memorize them. After a few minutes, the participants were shown the original words, as well as new words (some semantically related, others not), and asked to identify which belonged to the original list. UPI

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Posh Beverly Hills Considers Empty Pools, $1,000 Fines Amid Drought
Beverly Hills, the southern California city whose name evokes Hollywood-tinged glamour and luxury, is considering banning the refilling of swimming pools and fining residents $1,000 for water violations. Faced with an order from the governor to cut water use dramatically as the state reels from a three-year drought, city council members were expected to meet most of Tuesday afternoon before voting on which restrictions to impose on their well-heeled residents. Beverly Hills is one of the nation's most affluent cities, with palm tree-lined avenues and mansions surrounded by emerald-green lawns, fountains and pools. California's upscale communities have been criticized for using more water than working-class cities and towns as the state grapples with a devastating drought that has already forced tough new conservation measures and badly depleted reservoirs. Reuters

Environmentalists Warn That Gulf Oil Spill Recovery Could Be A Mirage
Some environmentalists weren’t happy with my article marking the fifth anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I emphasized a glass-half-full view of the present situation: Yes, BP and other corporate actors deserve condemnation for the environmental and economic devastation. But the subsequent recovery has been remarkable—and remarkably lucky. Steve Cochran, director of Mississippi Delta restoration for the Environmental Defense Fund and someone I rely on for incisive analysis of such issues, responded via e-mail that he hopes I’m right “but unfortunately, we won’t know the long-term science and lasting environmental impacts of the oil spill for many years to come. The damage to birds, dolphins, turtles, wetlands, and the potential for longstanding ecological-scale damage remains, as significant amounts of oil—or its persistent toxic constituents—remain in the system.” Bloomberg

New Orleans Ban On Smoking In Public Going Into Effect
Smoking in bars and casinos is coming to an end even in this notoriously freewheeling and fun-loving city where drinking on the street and watching a bawdy burlesque are the norm. Starting at midnight Tuesday, smoking will no longer be permitted in bars, gambling halls and many other public places such as hotels, workplaces, private clubs and stores. The ban was passed over the objections of bar owners and Harrah's New Orleans, the downtown casino. They filed a lawsuit to stop the ban, and a state judge has set a hearing on the matter in a month. Business owners warn that the ban may cut into revenues by as much as 20 percent in the first year. Las Vegas Sun

Obama Again Avoids Calling 1915 Armenian Killings ‘Genocide’
President Barack Obama is again stopping short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide. Top administration officials met with Armenian-American leaders Tuesday. The White House says the officials pledged that the U.S. would use the 100th anniversary of the killings "to urge a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts." The White House statement does not use the word genocide. Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks, an event widely viewed by scholars as a genocide. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide and say the death toll has been inflated. Obama has avoided using the term since becoming president given the importance of Turkey as an ally. Las Vegas Sun

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White House Says Welcomes End Of Saudi-Led Air Campaign In Yemen
The White house said on Tuesday it welcomed Saudi Arabia's announcement that it would end air strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen and back political peace talks.
"The United States welcomes today's announcement by the government of Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners of the conclusion of Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen," said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council. "We continue to support the resumption of a UN-facilitated political process and the facilitation of humanitarian assistance," Baskey said in a statement. Jerusalem Post

White House: US Concerned About Sentencing Of Mursi In Egypt
The United States is concerned about the sentencing of former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Tuesday. Mursi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was sentenced to 20 years in jail on Tuesday on charges arising from killing of protesters, nearly three years after he became Egypt's first freely elected president. Jerusalem Post

Conflicting Reports On IS Head Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi's Fate
There are conflicting reports about the fate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State jihadist group. An Iraqi interior ministry spokesman told the BBC Baghdadi was seriously wounded in a "coalition" air strike in March, without giving further details. The Guardian newspaper quoted a Western diplomat and an Iraqi adviser as saying the air strike was in western Iraq. The Pentagon said it had no information on Baghdadi's fate. Last year's reports of him being injured were inaccurate. The Iraqi spokesman, Brig Gen Saad Maan, told the BBC on Tuesday that Baghdadi was seriously wounded in the air strike. BBC

US Department Of Justice Probe Into Police Custody Death
The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the death of a black man who died from spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. The inquiry into the death of Freddie Gray, confirmed to the BBC, will determine whether any civil rights violations occurred. Gray, 25, died in hospital on Sunday, a week after being arrested in Baltimore. Hundreds of protesters gathered in the city on Tuesday evening to express their anger over the tragedy. A national debate over the use of police force has been going on since last summer, when a black teenager was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. It is not clear why police stopped Gray, but they said they found an illegal switchblade in his pocket. BBC

Progressives Push Clinton To Shape Agenda On 'Broken' College Debt System
Leading Democrats challenged Hillary Clinton to take a more ambitious, unabashedly progressive approach to higher education reform on Tuesday, in a sideways challenge to a candidate promoting the advantages of vocational training over traditional four-year degrees. While the party’s leading presidential contender completed the second day of her New Hampshire campaign swing, lawmakers back in Washington were seeking to shape her largely unformed policy agenda by pushing it to go beyond a focus on subsidising community colleges that has already been adopted by Barack Obama. Guardian

NRA May Have Systemically Broken Political Spending Law
The National Rifle Association and its two arms for lobbying and campaign contributions may have systemically violated political spending law, a new report claims.
Exploring the labyrinthine world of campaign finance and tax law, a Yahoo news investigation has found the gun rights organization may have broken the law while fundraising and reporting its spending. Although the NRA advertises the opportunity to contribute to its Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) – the arm that actively lobbies members of Congress – a credit card statement showed that a donation to the organization actually went to the NRA’s political action committee (Pac), the Political Victory Fund (PVF). While the NRA cannot directly give money to political candidates, its Pac can. Guardian

At UN, Religious And Political Leaders Weigh Srategies To Stem Rising Tide Of Intolerance, Extremism
Senior United Nations officials today called on the international community “in the name of our shared humanity to unite in courage and resolve” against intolerance at a critical time when people, communities and nations are grappling with disparity and radicalism. Opening the two-day high-level meeting on Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation, Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism, General Assembly President Sam Kutesa said 2015 is a year of hope as the world formulates a new development agenda. UN News

Ban Urges Ridding The World Of Chemical Weapons ‘Once And For All’ On 100th Anniversary Of Their First Use
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reminded the international community on the anniversary of the first use of chemical weapons in a Belgian battlefield 100 years ago today and amid allegations of their continued use, the only fitting tribute is to rid the world of these indiscriminate arms “once and for all.” Confirmation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria two years ago served as “a shocking reminder” that their use has not yet been consigned to history said the Secretary-General in a message delivered on his behalf by Virginia Gamba, Deputy to the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, at a ceremony in Ypres, Belgium, where the first chemical attack was recorded 100 years ago today. UN News

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