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Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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  • Israel will make “dramatic decisions” to reach a final peace agreement that will end the conflict with the Palestinians, Israel’s chief negotiator said Tuesday while warning that hawks inside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition are making her job more difficult (Associated Press). Tzipi Livni’s remarks came as a senior Palestinian official said that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met for their second round of peace talks Tuesday. The first round was held last week in Jerusalem under a cloak of secrecy. The Palestinian official, who is close to the negotiations, said the sides held two rounds of talks in Jerusalem but refused to disclose the precise location. He spoke on condition of anonymity because both sides promised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry not to discuss details with the media.
  • The Obama administration is opposed to even limited U.S. military intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad regime wouldn't support American interests if they were to seize power right now, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to a congressman in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
  • Beau Biden, the Delaware attorney general and the son of Vice President Joe Biden, is being evaluated at a cancer center in Texas, according to people with knowledge of his condition (Associated Press). Two people familiar with the situation said Biden was being evaluated Tuesday at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1 of the leading cancer centers in the nation. Beau Biden, who suffered a mild stroke in 2010, felt weak and disoriented on the night of Aug. 14 after driving to Indiana for a family vacation, said Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Justice.
  • The final installment of secretly recorded phone calls and meetings from President Richard Nixon's White House will be released Wednesday, marking a final chapter in a campaign for public access that continues as memories of Watergate fade (Associated Press). The recordings cap the chronological release of 3,000 hours of tapes Nixon recorded between February 1971 and July 1973 that have been released by the National Archives and Records Administration. The final installment covers the tumultuous three months when Watergate was closing in on the 37th president. Still, he forged ahead with Soviet peace talks, worked to cement Chinese relations and welcomed home Vietnam prisoners of war. "This is a really big release in volume and importance, because of the time period it covers," said Luke Nichter of Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen, who runs a website cataloging Nixon's secret recordings. "This is the end of taping and this is Watergate really beginning."
  • U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski  recently returned from Israel where she gained firsthand understanding of some of our nation’s most pressing foreign policy challenges (Howey Politics Indiana). During the trip, Walorski met with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders and learned more about the U.S.-Israel relationship, Israel’s security situation, and current political and economic trends in the region. “As Israel continues to experience constant terror threats from surrounding countries, the United States recognizes its special bond to Israel and is proud to be a strong ally. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I believe it is critical that the United States continues to focus on Israel’s security, particularly from the growing nuclear threat in Iran, to help stabilize the region and protect our own national security interests,” said Walorski. “I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with a wide range of leaders across the spectrum, including Israeli and Palestinian leaders about their quest to reach lasting peace across the region.” As part of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Walorski offered an amendment expressing the sense of Congress to fully support implementing U.S. and international sanctions on Iran.
  • Upon returning from her trip to Israel, Walorski issued the following statement on the continuing unrest in Egypt (Howey Politics Indiana): “Egypt's stability is also paramount to the security of Israel and the entire region. The horrific blood-shed between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security forces must be stopped, focusing on a non-violent resolution to restore stability for the Egyptian people. The United States needs to carefully consider the consequences of suspending foreign aid to the Egyptian military, who currently uphold a strong national security presence that prevents Al Qaeda from acquiring safe havens in the Middle East and maintains important resources like access to the Suez Canal,” said Walorski.
  • Just last week, two members of Congress from Indiana, freshmen Luke Messer and Susan Brooks, were in Israel on a trip designed to help them understand the politics of that region (Shella, WISH-TV). With the unrest in Egypt, it's a trip that has already taken on new importance, especially for Messer (R-6th District,) who serves on the Foreign Affairs committee. With the Egyptian military cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, with daily riots and demonstrations and a thousand recent casualties, Congressman Messer worries that the Obama Administration policy on Egypt is unclear. "I think that we need to be careful," he says, "that we don't inadvertently send the message that we support the Muslim Brotherhood more than we support democracy in the region." Just a week ago, Messer met with Israeli President Shimon Peres along with Susan Brooks and they came away with optimism…Messer also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who, he said, was more concerned about instability in Iran and Syria than in Egypt.  His comments at the time echoed those of Brooks. "There is hope that peace can happen in this region of the world," he said. Now the optimism has become concern and Messer supports a continuation of American military aid to Egypt as the Administration considers suspending it. "I think it's important to send the message that the violence must stop," he says, "and the democratic processes should continue. I would support continuing the aid conditioned on those requirements rather than cutting the aid right now."
  • U.S. Sen. Dan Coats issued the following statement regarding Tuesday’s announcement that Columbus-based Cummins Inc. will provide a new 5.0L V8, turbo-diesel engine for the Nissan Titan pickup truck (Howey Politics Indiana): “Today’s announcement is good news for Cummins, Columbus and Indiana,” said Coats. “All Hoosiers can celebrate the news that this innovative engine will be built in Columbus, bringing more jobs to Bartholomew County. For decades, Cummins has been a widely-respected employer and generously given back to its local community and state. Even in difficult economic times, Cummins continues to invest in Indiana and provide good-paying jobs for Hoosier workers.” The new engine will be built at Cummins’ Columbus Engine Plant.
  • Sen. Joe Donnelly released the following statement after Cummins announced that the company’s plant in Columbus, Indiana, will provide a new 5.0L V8, turbo-diesel engine for the Nissan Titan pickup truck (Howey Politics Indiana): “This announcement is great news and is the result of the high-quality work done by Hoosier Cummins employees,” said Donnelly.  “I’m pleased that Nissan will be making the investment in Cummins engines and that they will be made by men and women in Columbus. Indiana is home to many excellent manufacturers, and I look forward to working with Cummins and other Hoosier employers to ensure that every Hoosier who wants a job has a job.”
  • U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita visited with Ruth Lawson at CAM on Monday afternoon (Kokomo Perspective). Rokita was in Kokomo learning about the lack of emergency housing in his district. CAM is one of the few shelters that can provide housing for families in need.
  • On Monday August 25th, Congressman Luke Messer will join Michael and Denise Dora at their home at 3128 North CR 150 East in Rushville for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for an event in support of Congressman Messer (Greensburg Daily News). The cost for a host is $500; co-host is $300; and individuals are $50.
  • Just a quarter of this year's high school graduates who took the ACT tests have the reading, math, English and science skills they need to succeed in college or a career, according to data the testing company released Wednesday (Associated Press). The numbers are even worse for black high school graduates: Only 5 percent are fully ready for life after high school. The results, part of ACT's annual report, indicate thousands of students graduate from high schools without the knowledge necessary for the next steps in life. The data also show a downturn in overall student scores, although company officials attribute the slide to updated standards and more students taking the exams — including those with no intention of attending two- or four-year colleges.
  • Gov. Paul LePage, known for making controversial comments, reportedly said President Barack Obama "hates white people," according to two Maine newspapers citing unnamed sources (CNN). "I never said that. And you guys are all about gossip," he told reporters as he walked out of the Maine State House in Augusta. His comments were recorded by CNN affiliate WCSH. The Portland Press Herald reported late Monday night that two state lawmakers said LePage, a Republican, made the comment at a Maine GOP fundraiser on August 12. The Bangor Daily News also reported that LePage made the comment, citing an unnamed attendee. The Portland Press Herald wrote that LePage argued Obama would be the best president ever if he would highlight his biracial heritage, but he doesn't do so because of his negative feelings towards white people.
  • A military judge said she'll announce on Wednesday the sentence for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who gave reams of classified information to WikiLeaks (Associated Press). Army Col. Denise Lind said Tuesday she was still deliberating but she was confident she would have a sentence by Wednesday morning. "At 10 a.m. tomorrow I will announce the sentence," Lind said about 2 1/2 hours into her deliberations. Manning faces up to 90 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department diplomatic cables in 2010 while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
  • Three years after President Barack Obama signed a sweeping overhaul of lending and high-finance rules, execution of the law is behind schedule with scores of regulations yet to be written, let alone enforced. Meeting privately with the nation's top financial regulators on Monday, Obama prodded them to act more swiftly (Associated Press). The president's push comes as the five-year anniversary of the nation's financial near-meltdown approaches. The law when passed in 2010 was considered a milestone in Obama's presidency, a robust response to the crisis, which led to a massive government bailout to stabilize the financial markets. But the slow pace of implementation has prompted administration concern that banks could still pose potentially calamitous risks to the economy and to taxpayers. Obama hoped to convey "the sense of urgency that he feels," spokesman Josh Earnest said before the president convened the meeting with the eight independent regulators in the White House Roosevelt Room.
  • For the Obama administration, there's a new wrinkle that could further complicate ties with post-coup Egypt: the possible release of the country's jailed former leader, Hosni Mubarak (Associated Press). For nearly three decades, the U.S. propped up Mubarak and the Egyptian military with financial and military support. In exchange, Egypt helped protect U.S. interests in the region, including a peace treaty with Israel. But that long and tangled relationship is now casting a shadow over the Obama administration as it grapples for a coherent Egypt policy following the ouster of Mubarak's democratically elected successor, Mohammed Morsi. The U.S. has refused to call Morsi's ouster a coup — a step that would require President Barack Obama to suspend $1.3 billion in annual military aid. Amid the tumult of Morsi's ouster, Egyptian judicial officials announced Monday that Mubarak could be released from jail later this week. The White House refused to take a position on the status of its former partner, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on a legal matter.
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday that he will visit China next year to capitalize on an improving trend in U.S.-China relations, even as Beijing casts a wary eye on the Pentagon's strategic "pivot" to Asia and the Pacific (Associated Press). During a break in meetings at the Pentagon, Hagel and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Chang Wanquan, told reporters they see room for greater U.S.-China military cooperation, including joint exercises and high-level visits. Chang affirmed that China's navy next year will participate for the first time in a major international maritime exercise known as Rim of the Pacific. Hagel said he accepted Chang's invitation to visit Beijing in 2014. The last U.S. defense secretary to visit China was Leon Panetta in September 2012.
  • Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in the 2016 election (NPR News). To run for president, the Constitution says a candidate must be a "natural born" U.S. citizen. The Dallas Morning News reported Cruz holds doesn't mention dual citizenship. Amid concerns that being born in Canada could derail a possible presidential bid, Cruz released his birth certificate to the paper. It shows Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, on Dec. 22, 1970. His mother was born in the U.S. and his father was a native of Cuba. In a statement released Monday night, Cruz says, "Because my mother was a U.S. citizen, born in Delaware, I was a U.S. citizen by birth. When I was a kid, my Mom told me that I could choose to claim Canadian citizenship if I wanted. I got my U.S. passport in high school." In the statement, Cruz, a Tea Party favorite, announced plans that he would renounce his Canadian citizenship.
  • On Monday’s airing of MSNBC’s ‘Jansing & Co.,’ U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on the growing the violence in Egypt and what role the United States should play.
  • More than 30 people gathered Monday afternoon at Logansport’s Heritage Park for a Congress on Your Corner event with U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (Sites, Logansport Pharos-Tribune). Rokita gave a brief statement that he wanted the event to be a time for people to voice concerns and ask questions, instead of listening to him speak. ”It’s a time for me to hear you,” said Rokita, who represents Indiana’s 4th Congressional District. “I want to talk one-on-one.” Rich Wild, a personal friend of Rokita, attended the event. Wild’s son was one of Rokita’s fraternity brothers in college. He said he wanted to hear what Cass County and Logansport residents had to say and how Rokita would respond. “I suspect in an hour he’ll get an earful,” Wild said before Rokita spoke. “It’s important he is here because he has contact with what is going on. You can sit at home and can complain, but unless you’re willing to talk, not just vent, it won’t matter.”…After the event, Rokita said some themes he saw were immigration, the nation’s debt, and the Affordable Care Act.  
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  • Rep. Brooks endorses Messer in GOP Senate race
    "Luke and I have been friends for a long time, and being his colleague and watching him work up close, I have no doubt he'll make a great U.S. Senator. We face tough issues as a nation and need Luke Messer in the Senate to meet those challenges and make Washington work better for Hoosiers. Luke is a proven conservative, but more than that, he is a respected and skillful leader who builds the relationships necessary to get our shared priorities enacted into law. His principles and strong communication skills have made him a go-to leader in the House, and those same attributes will enable Luke to deliver results when he arrives in the U. S. Senate. His record of fighting for school choice to create better education opportunities for tens of thousands of Indiana families and protecting veterans’ GI Bill benefits shows Hoosiers they can trust him to do the right thing and do it well.” - U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, endorsing U.S. Rep. Luke Messer for the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate nomination on Wednesday. Messer faces U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, attorney Mark Hurt, businessman Terry Henderson, State Rep. Mike Braun and educator Andrew Takami in the GOP primary.
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  • Mike and Hillary
    We’ve watched 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton make the rounds on her new book: “What Happened.” The reaction has been cringes from Democrats hoping to move on, a set-the-record mentality from some journalistic quarters, and taunts from Republicans. Vice President Pence has the best line of all, with this tweet Thursday morning: “The first book that has the question and the answer on the cover.” Good line, Mike, er … Mr. Vice President. It harkens back to those studio days near the Speedway and a retreat to Claude & Annies. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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