Tuesday, 15 October 2013

RNC Wants Immigration Reform, but No Path to Citizenship


The Republican National Committee passed a resolution Friday calling on President Obama and Congress to pass immigration reform legislation before the end of the year, but it did not include a pathway to citizenship for any of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, unlike the bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate in June.

The resolution criticized the current system, calling it “premised upon obsolete public policy” and “outdated technology,” and said the “best deterrent to illegal immigration is a well-functioning program for legal immigration, which we do not have.”

The resolution called on the president and Congress to create a new work permit program, which, according to the resolution, would “allow foreign nationals who are currently in the country and have not violated any other laws of the U.S. to come forward and register and be allowed to remain and work in the U.S.”

The language, though, specifically excluded a path to citizenship. The work permit, which would need to be renewed every two years, would “not not result in application for citizenship nor any family members entering the U.S.” It would also require the immigrant to have “proof of continuous employment,” with no more than two months per year of unemployment.

The resolution called on Congress to create a special legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to America as children, a group known as “DREAMers” by immigration activists. The name came from the DREAM Act, legislation created for minors who were brought to this country illegally by their parents to be able to gain legal status.

Their classification for those brought to America as children also would include a work permit, but it would be renewable every five years. That, too, would have no pathway to citizenship and require proof of employment or attendance in school.

The resolution called for increased border security, including the completion of a border fence and increased law enforcement or military patrols, as well as mandatory employer use of the E-verify system.

The Senate Gang of Eight legislation, which includes a pathway to citizenship, passed with support from Democrats and Republicans and was pushed by stars of the party like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

The immigration reform advocacy organization America’s Voice released a statement criticizing the Republican resolution that lacked a pathway to citizenship, saying their “vision of reform would consign millions of immigrants – including DREAMers – to a permanent underclass.”

“The RNC has passed a resolution calling for immigration reform by the end of the year.  Okay, good start.  But then they went downhill – fast,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice. “It says that you can graduate from our universities and serve in our armed forces, but you can’t be a citizen.  It says you can scrub our floors, bus our tables, make our beds and care for our kids but you are not good enough to be one of us.  It says you can get to the back of the bus, and never have a chance to earn the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”

The RNC passed other resolutions Friday on the last day of its summer meeting in Boston, including one blocking NBC and CNN from partnering with the GOP for any presidential debates during the 2016 primary process because they did not pull their pending films on Hillary Clinton. Others resolutions included one calling on Congress to “defund Obamacare” and one “protecting coal.”

News of the immigration resolution was first reported by Time.

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Ohio Brothers Save Woman From Harrowing Rape


Two Columbus, Ohio, brothers are being called heroes after they stepped in to help rescue a woman who suffered a brutal assault at the hands of a family friend.

Natheer Abdul-Razzaque and his brother, Hashim, of Columbus, were taking out the garbage on Wednesday when they heard a woman screaming from a house down the block, ABC Columbus affiliate WSYX-TV reported.

Alarmed by her cries, they went down to knock on the door. There, they witnessed a man running out of the back of the house. A badly beaten, bloodied woman emerged from inside, prompting the brothers to call 911 to get help.

"She was really bloody," Hashim Abdul-Razzaque told WSYX-TV. "She was top to bottom blood."

"If we were even two minutes late, she would have been dead," Natheer Abdul-Razzaque said.

The woman, who was later identified as Leanna Whitlock, told WSYX-TV she had been stabbed 50 times with a screwdriver and a butter knife, and was repeatedly raped by David Hudson, a family friend who was staying with her husband after recently getting out of jail.

Whitlock told police Hudson forced her to perform oral sex several times, as well as stabbed her, punched her, and attempted to suffocate her with a pillow, WSYX-TV reported. Hudson also reportedly told Whitlock if she did not comply, he would kill her.

Whitlock was able to survive the attack by playing dead, which prompted Hudson to leave the house, according to WSYX-TV. She snuck out of a window to try and get help.

Whitlock was rushed to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where she received stitches and staples, and underwent eye surgery for injuries sustained during the assault, WSYX-TV reported. A hospital spokesman told that she was no longer in the hospital as of this afternoon.

"He didn't ruin my life because I won. I beat him, he didn't kill me," Whitlock said. "I want to make sure that he never gets out, he never sees the light of day again."

Hudson was charged with rape, kidnapping and felony assault, said a Franklin County Municipal Court spokeswoman. He was in custody at Franklin County Jail, where his bond was set at $1.5 million. He is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, the Abdul-Razzaque brothers are glad they didn't ignore what could have been "a joke or a game."

"I hear screaming, I'm going to help regardless," Natheer Abdul-Razzaque said. "I'm not going to listen to a scream and not do anything about it."

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No Shutdown Deal in Sight After White House Meeting

President Obama and leaders of both houses of Congress left a 90-minute meeting at the White House this evening no more closer to ending a government shutdown.

Neither side gave any indication that the talks, however cordial, moved them toward a compromise.

"They will not negotiate," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after leaving the West Wing. "We had a nice conversation, a light conversation, but at some point we've got to allow the process the Congress gave us to work out."

Boehner insists that Democrats in the Senate send negotiators to a conference with House Republicans to work out the differences between the two sides on the budget.

But Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the president reiterated that they would hold firm in their position.

"This has never happened before, for a political party to be will willing to take the country to the brink of financial disaster," said Reid, the Senate majority leader. "We're through playing these little games."

Pelosi, House minority leader, warned that the combination of the government shutdown and the threat of a default if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 would be "cataclysmic."

Earlier in the day, President Obama, in an interview with CNBC, said he was "exasperated" by a continued standoff, and warned that financial executives would be wise to be concerned that Congress might fail to raise the debt ceiling.

"When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to potentially default on U.S. government obligations, then we are in trouble," he said.

"And if they're willing to do it now, they'll be willing to do it later."

Shutdown Could Cost $300 Million a Day

With much of the federal government paralyzed for a second day, today's meeting with lawmakers marked the first time they have convened with Obama in person on such issues.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden also attended the meeting.

A Small, Growing GOP Faction Bucks Shutdown Strategy

It also comes as congressional Republicans are increasingly under pressure today to either hold their ground or take an escape hatch offered to them by Democrats and a small but growing number of moderate Republicans who seek to end the unpopular shutdown.

To do so would require the House to abandon its efforts to alter the Affordable Care Act, and instead pass a so-called "clean" funding bill that the Senate and President Obama could accept.

"I'm concerned about those that are on furlough right now," Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., told ABC News. "I know what it's like to make $30,000 a year and barely be able to pay your rent.

"My heart goes out to those people and that's why I will do whatever I have to do to fund the government, to get this shutdown over."

The strategy, now backed by 17 lawmakers and counting, would likely require that a Republican-led House of Representatives rely principally on Democratic votes and at least 17 Republicans to approve the bill.

But it could further weaken House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has had difficulty navigating through the crisis in a way that satisfies the more conservative, tea party-backed wing of his party.

While a "clean" bill would give Boehner a fast way to put a stop to the negative impact a shutdown has on Republicans in public opinion, it would certainly infuriate conservatives in the Republican Party's base, who have lobbied the leaders of their caucus for months to take a stand on this issue.

Shutdown Jeopardizes National Security, Intelligence Officials Warn

The political pressure only intensified after Republicans' latest strategy, to ameliorate some of the shutdown's effects on veterans, national parks and the District of Columbia, failed to pass in the House Tuesday night and it faced certain rejection in the Senate and from the White House.

If Boehner chooses to hold his ground, however, there is a growing belief that the shutdown could last for days or weeks.

Already, the White House announced today that Obama canceled his trip to Malaysia and the Philippines scheduled for next week, indicating that the White House believes the shutdown could continue into a second week.

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Tired of Brushing? New Toothbrush Claims to Clean Teeth in 6 Seconds


If you’re tired of spending the recommended two minutes brushing your teeth every morning and night, a new toothbrush claims it can help you get a deep, clean in six seconds.

The Blizzident toothbrush looks a bit like a mouth guard with bristles, and a 3-D printer customizes the fit for each customer. Ringing in at $299, the toothbrush lasts for a full year, a bit longer than the recommended three to four months for toothbrush replacement recommended by the American Dentistry Association.

Is Colgate Planning to Develop Caffeinated Toothbrushes? 

According to Chris Martin, spokesman for Blizzident, the goal was to create a toothbrush that would make “perfect brushing as easy as biting into an apple.

“The intent was to create a tool that simply cleans perfectly everywhere,” said Martin. “The six-second brushing time was just a side effect of the invention, but that was not even intended.”

Some dentists have their doubts about this new dental gadget, especially when it comes to cutting down on the brushing time.

“There’s some things that don’t make sense about this,” said Dr. Mark S. Wolff, a dentist and associate dean for pre-doctoral clinical education at the New York University College of Dentistry

Wolff called the Blizzident  “a novel idea” but said more evidence was needed to show that the device would work effectively and over a long period of time.

“I guess [it's] for the man who has everything. I don’t see the general applicability, to tell the truth,” said Wolff. “Could it work? The answer is yes, but I approach it with a sense of skepticism.”

Wolff said people are supposed to spend two minutes brushing their teeth, because it takes two minutes for the fluoride in the toothpaste to work effectively.

“A child who runs in to the bathroom and in 15 seconds is back watching cartoons,” is not brushing long enough, said Wolff.

Are Powered Toothbrushes a Choking Hazard? 

HT blizzident toothbrush nt 131002 16x9 608 Tired of Brushing? New Toothbrush Claims to Clean Teeth in 6 Seconds The Blizzident toothbrush claims to clean teeth in six seconds flat. (Blizzident)

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Forging on: My Vacation in a Closed National Park

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. October 3, 2013 (AP)By TAMMY WEBBER Associated Press Associated Press Everybody gathers around Joe, the guy who seems to have all the answers. Only he doesn't.

He's worked in Yosemite National Park for about 30 years, and is trying to advise anxious guests about what's open, what's closed as the government shutdown enters its second day. If they want to see the valley floor, he says, they'd better get in their cars and drive now, before more of the roads are closed. They probably won't find an open restroom along the way, but the food court in Yosemite Village might be — for now. Then again, they might get turned away. Who knows? It's hour by hour now.

I never intended to get a firsthand look at the closure of a national park. I knew before I left Chicago that it was a possibility, but held out hope. Now here I am, trying to figure out what to do in my third day in the park, when some of the wonders I'd come to see are inaccessible.

My friend Barb and I got here on Monday, not exactly regretting the night we spent in San Francisco, which was nice, but anxious to get to the wilderness. That first day, we tried to drive to, or get a glimpse of, as many of the iconic attractions as possible — Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls — and got out to do short hikes and, in my case, take hundreds of photos. We marveled that they were some of the same ones that Ansel Adams photographed so long ago.

By Tuesday morning, everyone awoke to learn that the government, indeed, had shut down. But the park hadn't quite yet. Those with reservations in the park, like us, would have 48 hours to get out. We decided to make the most of it and drive to Glacier Point and do a long hike. But too late: The road to Glacier Point already was closed. Cars pulled in and stopped. People got out and started talking to each other.

A couple from Belgium were on the last stop of a three-week tour of the American West. They'd seen Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon and now they wanted to see Yosemite. A young girl from South Korea told me she'd come with her mother and aunt, getting up at 5 a.m. and driving all the way from San Francisco Tuesday morning. She wasn't supposed to get into the park, but she said nobody stopped them at the entrance. They made a short loop around the valley floor, then were heading back out — bitterly disappointed.

"This is crazy," says the girl, Songyi Cho. "How can a whole government shut down?"

We drove on, determined to hike. Some cars were funneling out of the valley, toward the exits, but many were still determined to eke out as much time as possible. We pulled off the road at the trailhead to Glacier Point and loaded up our daypacks. Three hours later, after climbing up switchbacks and encountering about 20 people along the way when there otherwise might have been hundreds, we saw what we came for — Half Dome towering in the distance, the valley floor spread out below us.

That's where we stayed for about 45 minutes, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, taking in the majestic view and listening to the wind and woodpeckers. Then it was time to head back and drive to Mariposa Grove to see the giant redwoods. Too late again. That road was closed.

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Monday, 14 October 2013

Security Forces Storm Protester-Held Egypt Mosque

By MAGGIE MICHAEL and TONY G. GABRIEL Associated Press abcnws_fw_params = {siteSectionId: 'nws_international', siteSectionIdType: 0, siteSectionNetworkId: 168234, siteSectionFallbackId: 109523, customVisitor:'', keyValues:'pageType=wirestory'}; pc.fwSeg();pc.fwAppendKeyValues('show=gma');pc.getSWID();pc.subsectionOverride();function fw_config(){return abcnws_fw_params;}if (tq.videoOverrideContext != null) {jsvideoViewEventProp16Value = tq.videoOverrideContext;} else {jsvideoViewEventProp16Value = "none";}if (jsvideoViewEventProp16Value == "none") { jsvideoViewEventProp16Value = ""; }jsvideoViewEventEvar20Value = jsvideoViewEventProp16Value;currentURL = window.location.href;closedCaptionActiveValue = true;hdPluginActive = ('hdplugin=true') != -1)?true:false;kdp_embed_default = {doKdpEmbed : function() {// Should only be changed if you are running Kaltura On Prem / Kaltura CE:var service_url = "";// logic cascade for deciding which entry to loadvar entry_id = this.getEntryIdFromUrl() || this.getEntryIdFromDataAttr() || this.fallback_entry; var embedSrc = "" + entry_id + "%2Fwidget_id%2F_" + kdp_embed_default.partner_id + "%2Fuiconf_id%2F" + 5590821;flashembed(this.placeholder_id,{// attributes and params:id :"kaltura_player_default",src : service_url + "/index.php/kwidget/wid/_" + kdp_embed_default.partner_id + "/uiconf_id/" + kdp_embed_default.uiconf_id + "/entry_id/" + entry_id,height :361,width :640,bgcolor :"#eeeeee",allowNetworking : "all",version :[10,0],expressInstall :"",wmode: "transparent"},{// flashvars (double-quote the values)externalInterfaceDisabled : "false",jsInterfaceReadyFunc :"jsInterfaceReady",contentType: "video",//"restrictUserAgent.restrictedUserAgents": "GoogleTV",referer : "","omniture.videoViewEventEvar15Value" : "player|storypage","omniture.videoViewEventProp18Value" : "player|storypage","omniture.videoViewEventProp16Value" : jsvideoViewEventProp16Value,"omniture.videoViewEventEvar20Value" : jsvideoViewEventEvar20Value,"omniture.adStartEvar15Value" : "player|storypage","omniture.adStartEvar20Value" : jsvideoViewEventEvar20Value,"closedCaptionActive" : closedCaptionActiveValue,noThumbnail: true,"abcnews.displayEndCard":false,"addThis.embedCodeLinks" : "","addThis.embedFlashVars" : "referer=[autoPlay]=false%26addThis.playerSize=392x221%26freeWheel.siteSectionId=nws_offsite%26closedCaptionActive=false", "addThis.iframeTemplate" : "%3Ciframe%20id%3D%22%24playerId%24%22%20height%3D%22360%22%20width%3D%22640%22%20style%3D%22%24cssStyle%24%22%20src%3D%22"+embedSrc+"","shareBtnControllerScreen.enabled" : "true",//"video.stretchThumbnail":true,//"volumeBar.initialValue":0.75,//"volumeBar.forceInitialValue":true,debugMode: true})},onFail : function() {alert("FLASH EMBEDDING FAILED");},getEntryIdFromUrl : function() {if(location.hash.indexOf(kdp_embed_default.url_param_name) != -1) {// get the entry id from the url document fragment (aka hash):return location.hash.split("#")[1].substring((kdp_embed_default.url_param_name.length+1));}else if( != -1) {// get the entry id from the url parameters (aka querystring):return"?")[1].substring((kdp_embed_default.url_param_name.length+1));}else {// use the default video defined in "fallback_entry" below://return kdp_embed_default.fallback_entry;return false;}},getEntryIdFromDataAttr : function() {var data_attr_val = document.getElementById(this.placeholder_id).getAttribute("data-entryid");if(data_attr_val && !(data_attr_val Associated Press

Egyptian security forces stormed a Cairo mosque Saturday after a heavy exchange of gunfire with armed men shooting down from a minaret, rounding up hundreds of supporters of the country's ousted president who had sought refuge there overnight after violent clashes killed 173 people.

The raid on the al-Fath mosque on Ramses Square was prompted by fears that deposed President Mohammed Morsi's group, the Muslim Brotherhood, again planned to set up a sit-in, security officials said, similar to those that were broken up Wednesday in assaults that killed hundreds of people.

The arrest of the brother of al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri came in connection to the raid on the mosque. Officials said that he planned to bring in armed groups to provide support to those holed up inside the mosque.

Mohammed al-Zawahri, a Morsi ally, is the leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafi group which espouses al-Qaida's hardline ideology. He was detained at a checkpoint in Giza, the city across the Nile from Cairo, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists about the arrest.

The Egyptian government meanwhile announced it had begun deliberations on whether to ban the Brotherhood, a long-outlawed organization that swept to power in the country's first democratic elections a year ago.

Such a ban — which authorities say is rooted in the group's use of violence — would be a repeat to the decades-long power struggle between the state and the Brotherhood.

For more than a month since the July 3 military overthrow of Morsi, Brotherhood members and supporters have attacked and torched scores of police stations and churches, in retaliation. Shops and houses of Christians have also been targeted.

Such attacks spurred widespread public anger against the Brotherhood, giving the military-backed government popular backing to step up its campaign against the Islamist group. It reminded people of a decade-long Islamist insurgency against Mubarak's rule in the 1990s which only strengthened security agencies and ended up with thousands of Islamic fundamentalists in prisons.

The unrest in Egypt has raised international concerns over the country's stability and prompted U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to condemn in a statement on Saturday both "violent protests" in reference to Brotherhood's rallies and the authorities' "excessive use of force."

Ban also noted, in an apparent rebuff of Brotherhood demands to reinstate Morsi, that the "political clocks move only forward, not backward" and urged "maximum restraint and shift immediately to de-escalation."

Former President Jimmy Carter expressed deep concern over the violence, saying it is "rapidly eroding the chances for dialogue and a road to reconciliation." Carter added that he is "especially concerned that Egyptians are arming themselves and engaging in inter-communal violence."

In Cairo, the assault on the al-Fath Mosque began on Friday when pro-Morsi protesters and armed men fled into the worship center to avoid angry vigilantes and arrest. They piled furniture in the mosque's entrance to block authorities and enraged anti-Morsi protesters from reaching them.

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Shutdown Creating a 'Dreamland' for Spies

Congressional failure to keep the federal government running has created a "dreamland" for foreign governments to recruit spies inside the U.S. government and has left many threats against the homeland unaddressed, top intelligence officials are warning.

"I've been in the intelligence business for about 50 years. I've never seen anything like this," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, referring to the government shutdown, told lawmakers Wednesday. "This seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation and its citizens. … The damage will be insidious."

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on an unrelated matter, Clapper insisted the shutdown "is not just a Beltway issue," noting that the U.S. intelligence community has been forced to furlough about 70 percent of its workforce.

Obama: 'I Will Not Give In to Reckless Demands'

To determine who would be furloughed, Clapper said intelligence officials are legally required to apply a standard that says only those who are "necessary to protect against imminent threat to life or property" can stay on the job.

He said adjustments to the current workforce will be made depending on "what we see as the potential imminent threats to life or property." Still he said, "This is extremely damaging, and it will increase so as this shutdown drags on. … Each day that goes by, the jeopardy increases."

Then Clapper made this dire warning: "This is a dreamland for foreign intelligence services to recruit, particularly as employees -- already many of whom are subject to furloughs driven by sequestration -- are going to have … even greater financial challenges."

In other words, the shutdown is increasing the risk that intelligence and law enforcement officials fall into debt – and paying off debt is a key sales point foreign governments make to potential spies.

In fact, many U.S. intelligence agencies won't give security clearances to applicants who have significant debt out of fear they could be vulnerable to foreign governments' recruitment efforts.

The Most Surprising Consequences of a Government Shutdown

To defend against such recruitment in the midst of the shutdown, the U.S. intelligence community is setting up counseling services for employees to help them manage their finances, Clapper said.

The head of the National Security Agency expressed concern that counterterrorism officials now have to further prioritize the threats against the nation, assigning resources to only "the most specific threats."

"We can't cover all of [the threats], so what we're doing is we're taking the most significant counterterrorism and other threats that we see ... [and] that's the priority," NSA director Keith Alexander told lawmakers.

The top Republican on the Senate committee said the large number of intelligence officials being furloughed raises questions about the workforce itself.

"I'm concerned that if lawyers in the intelligence community determined that 70 percent of their employees are non-essential to the mission … then the intelligence community either needs better lawyers to make big changes to the workforce or [needs to look at whether the agencies are] over-employed in those areas," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

LIVE Updates: Government Shutdown Day 1

At the same time, an FBI official outside Washington said the piecemeal approach and budget back-and-forth in Congress are also having an impact on counterterrorism efforts, forcing officials to repeatedly address budget changes rather than fight terrorism.

"We spend way too much time and money anticipating and preparing for these economic roller coasters," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "I've been around long enough to remember annual appropriations made and approved with enough time for agencies to prepare spending plans for their budgets. Sadly, many younger employees have seen only [continuing resolutions] and the scare of shutdowns every year. Like the financial markets, we crave stability."

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