U.S. Collins leads Senate sisters in shaping deal

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WASHINGTON — The male Senate leaders may have tied the bow on a deal aimed at ending the government shutdown, but credit for shaping the package is being given to a group of women, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
 
Collins, a moderate Republican in her third term, was the leader of a bipartisan group of 14 senators — six of them women — who developed a compromise to end the 16-day partial federal shutdown and temporarily raise the debt ceiling so the nation isn't on the brink of default.
 
STORY: Senate reaches deal to end government shutdown
 
While the group's proposal was not left intact, Collins and other senators who participated say elements have been incorporated and helped provide the framework for the final deal hammered out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
 
"It's a good outcome," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., part of the 14-member group. "Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily by women in the Senate."
 
Collins said Wednesday it was a "truly collaborative effort," adding that all in the group deserved "kudos" for working on the deal. McCain joked that he had won "a small side wager" from Collins in the course of their negotiations.
 
She said she began the effort Oct. 5, on a rare Saturday session for the Senate, after listening to speeches in the chamber during the first weekend of the government shutdown that were sharp and partisan from both Republicans and Democrats. Collins delivered a speech of her own that day, urging her colleagues to work together on a solution.
 
Two of her sister senators — Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — were the first to call Collins and join the effort. "I know my colleagues are tired of hearing about the women in the Senate," Collins said Wednesday, with a smile, as she thanked Murkowski and Ayotte.
 
Collins, Murkowski and Ayotte even appeared together Wednesday morning on NBC's Today show, calling for an end to partisan bickering and politics.
 
"This should not be about someone's speakership," Murkowski said, referencing the challenges House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has faced from his GOP members. "This should not be about the next election. This should be about the future of our country, where we are right now. We are shutdown as a government. We are facing a debt crisis."
 
In the end, the group of 14 senators was comprised of seven Republicans, six Democrats and independent Sen. Angus King of Maine.
 
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., another member of the group, said on CBS earlier this week that it shouldn't be a surprise that women played such a key role.
 
The 113th Congress began in January with a record 20 women — 16 Democrats and four Republicans — in the chamber. They all sat down for an interview with ABC News, and stressed that they could get things accomplished, partly because of their gender.
 
"What I find is with all due deference to our male colleagues, that women's styles tend to be more collaborative," Collins said in that ABC News interview.
 
Since her election to the Senate in 1996, Collins has been quick to cross the aisle and work on compromises. In 2010, she was the lead Republican on legislation that ended the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians in the military. Collins was also one of three Republicans in 2009 to vote for President Obama's economic stimulus package.
 
The Senate deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling will also be a compromise that will have Collins' name attached.
 
"She deserves a lot of credit for getting us together and moving the ball down the field," said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
 
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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Texas town struggles to rebound from deadly blast

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Read Time:8 Minute, 31 Second
WEST, Texas — Students are back in class, homes are being rebuilt and, at least on the surface, normalcy appears to be returning to this battered town six months after one of worst chemical blasts in U.S. history.
 
But the road to recovery has been tough in West, located about 75 miles south of Dallas, and a lingering unease remains.
 
Residents jump at car horns and loud noises, and flaring tempers and alcohol abuse appear on the rise. Others are in the midst of painful rehabilitation from injuries from the blast and learning to navigate lives with rebuilt shoulders and legs.
 
The explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. depot occurred six months ago Thursday. A fire inside a storage building at the plant cooked off a store of ammonium nitrate and triggered the massive explosion, killing 15 people, including 10 first-responders, injuring more than 200 others and destroying 161 homes.
 
The blast blew out windows and tossed residents to the ground for several miles in all directions, left a crater 90 feet across and 10 feet deep and caused more than $200 million in damage. Virtually everyone in this city of 2,800 residents was affected.
 
The 10 firefighters from five departments killed marked the highest single-incident firefighter fatality count in the USA since 9/11, when 340 firefighters died responding to the terrorist attacks in New York, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
 
The memorial service a week later in nearby Waco drew President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. "No words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night,'' the president said then.
 
Though the city appears to be on the mend, the emotional toll from the incident may take years to detect and treat, says Robert Payne, one of the volunteer firefighters who battled the initial blaze. He survived the blast but suffered nerve damage to his right shoulder, a broken left ankle, broken ribs, broken cheek bones, five teeth blown out, and a busted eardrum. Five West Volunteer Fire Department firefighters died in the explosion.
 
"The city in general is recuperating," Payne says. "Mentally, it's going to take a long, long time."
 
A joint investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Texas State Fire Marshall's Office is ongoing. Investigators are looking at the 120-volt electrical system in the storage building and a battery-operated golf cart parked inside as possible causes, says Franceska Perot, an ATF spokeswoman in Houston.
 
How the incident, one of the largest chemical explosions in U.S. history, changes the way ammonium nitrate is regulated in the USA remains to be seen. Ammonium nitrate is a widely used fertilizer but can also be used as an explosive. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh packed more than 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in a truck bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people.
 
The West Fertilizer Co. had more than 200 times that amount — 540,000 pounds — on site four months before the blast, according to state records.
 
Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company's owners with 24 "serious safety violations" ranging from unsafe handling and storage of ammonium nitrate to failing to have an emergency response plan.
 
There are currently 16 lawsuits filed in McLennan County Court against Adair Grain Inc., which owns the fertilizer depot. The company belongs to longtime West resident Donald Adair, through a spokesman, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
 
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board dispatched 10 investigators to the scene to gather information about the incident as part of the effort to make recommendations on the handling and storage of ammonium nitrate. The agency was scheduled to make a public announcement on its findings later this month, but the inquiry has been stalled by the government shutdown, says Daniel Horowitz, the agency's managing director. Hundreds of similar facilities storing ammonium nitrate exist across the USA and lack proper regulation, he says.
 
"This is the worst chemical accident we've ever seen at any level," Horowitz says of the West explosion. "The key question for us is, 'How do you protect ammonium nitrate from explosion and what needs to change at the federal level or local level?'"
 
In West, reminders of the disaster lurk everywhere. The West Fertilizer Co. has been razed completely. Today, it is a large, empty lot encircled by a chain-link fence. Some nearby homes remain in clumps of rubble or hollowed-out ruin. Others have boarded up windows and work crews out front — signs that the owner is rebuilding.
 
The blast blew out all the windows and popped off the roof of Robert Seith's home on North Main Street, two blocks from the fertilizer company. Insurance only covered $95,000 of the estimated $150,000 in damage, he says. But he was recently approved for a low-interest loan by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will cover the gap. He plans to rebuild on the same lot — the same place where he and his two siblings were raised.
 
Since the blast, Seith, 48, and his wife, Kim, have lived in his sister's RV at a nearby trailer park. "I'm ready to come home," he says. "I'm tired of camping."
 
Overall, the city has issued 150 building permits for new and remodeled homes, says Mayor Tommy Muska, whose own house was badly damage by the explosion. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, after initially ruling it would not compensate West, has paid about $700,000 in grants for infrastructure repairs, and the SBA has pledged $7 million in loans, he says.
 
But Muska is hearing about — and witnessing — what he feels are the intangible effects of the blast: tempers flaring, a rise in alcohol abuse, people losing sleep.
 
"One of our biggest challenges is keeping morale up and making sure these people are mentally taken care of," Muska says. "There's a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety."
 
West Long-Term Recovery, a non-profit group created to help blast victims, has seen a steady influx of residents complaining of everything from sudden hyperventilation to short tempers to acute changes in personality, says Karen Bernsen, the group's executive director. Some residents have turned to alcohol and other substances to dull the pain, she says.
 
She says the symptoms could be brought on by the stress of losing friends and homes to the blast. But more worrisome, she adds, they could stem from undiagnosed brain damage and internal injuries from the blast's shock waves.
 
A counseling center organized by Baylor University opened in town shortly after the explosion but closed recently due to a lack of clients. Residents are only now coming to terms with their mental issues and seeking professional help, Bernsen says.
 
"It opened and no one needed it," she says of the center. "Now everybody needs it, and it's gone. It's a very complicating, challenging need."
 
Another reminder of the blast greets visitors to the West Volunteer Fire Department. Splashed across its south wall are pictures of the department's five firefighters killed in the explosion: Morris Bridges, Cody Dragoo, Joey Pustejovsky, Robert Snokhaus and Douglas Snokhaus.
 
The other slain firefighters are: Perry Calvin, Jerry Chapman, Kenneth "Luckey" Harris Jr., Kevin Sanders and Cyrus Reed, who were from other Texas fire departments who were in town at the time taking emergency medical technician courses.
 
The call of a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. compound went out just before 7:30 p.m. on April 17. After their pagers buzzed, members of the West Volunteer Fire Department pulled on their bunker suits and headed to the scene.
 
Payne, 51, was on vacation and had turned his pager off. But word of the fire spread quickly through West and a relative called with the news.
 
He pulled on his bunker suit and headed to the depot in his wife's SUV. Some of the firefighters who had arrived earlier were trying to plug a hose into a nearby hydrant. But when Payne and other fire officials saw how fast the the fire was spreading, they decided to pull everyone back.
 
Payne was zipping up his coat and walking to a group of firefighters on the north side of the fire to tell them to retreat — when his memory cuts out.
 
The explosion detonated with the force of 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of TNT and registered as a magnitude-2.1 earthquake according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Car-sized chunks of concrete and debris flew for miles, demolishing homes and crushing the nearby West Rest Haven nursing home. Miraculously, no one there was immediately killed by the blast.
 
The blast threw Payne 25 feet into the air and deposited him in a cattle feed tank. He doesn't remember much until the hospital, when workers washed him down and worked to save his mangled right arm, he says. He spent two days in the intensive care unit and two more weeks in the hospital. He still undergoes therapy to get his right arm working properly again.
 
Payne says his sleeping has been erratic, and he's only now begun to talk to professionals about his mental state. He knows there are others in town far worse off – mentally and physically – than he. Still, he's been heartened by the outpouring of support from neighbors, friends and complete strangers.
 
"It was awful," Payne says. "But we're a stronger and closer-knit community because of it."

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Cory Booker wins New Jersey Senate seat

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Cory Booker, the charismatic Newark mayor who won a national following via Twitter and his own heroics, was elected to the U.S. Senate Wednesday.
 
Booker, a Democrat, easily defeated Republican Steve Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, N.J., in a special election to fill the seat held by Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June.
 
Booker is New Jersey's first African-American senator and the only elected black Senator in the upper house. Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina was appointed in January to fill the seat of Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned.
 
"Thank you so much, New Jersey, I'm proud to be your senator-elect,'' Booker tweeted minutes after the Associated Press declared him the winner.
 
Addressing supporters at a victory party, Booker said he will go to Washington "to engage in the kind of hard, humble service that reaches out to others." He also paid an emotional tribute to his father, Cary, who died last week. "Death can end a life, but it cannot end a love," Booker said.
 
The unusual date for the special election — a Wednesday less than a month before the November legislative and gubernatorial election — was set by Republican Gov. Chris Christie. The end of nine-week campaign, hard fought between Booker and Lonegan, coincided with 16-day government shutdown.
 
Booker, who is in his second term as mayor of the state's largest city, made much of his ability to cross party lines and reach compromise, often citing his experience working with Republican Gov. Chris Christie on education and economic development in Newark.
 
As he voted Wednesday, Booker called the election "a chance to make a statement about what is going on in Washington.''
 
Voters who came to cast ballots at Firehouse #3 in Teaneck, N.J., in the northern part of the state, had the congressional stalemate on their minds. Leonard Hospidor, 42, an audio engineer, voted with one goal: "Stopping the madness.''
 
Hospidor voted for Booker. But his vote was "not just a partisan thing as it is so much trying to restore a little bit of sanity to the process,'' he said. "It's gotten out of control, the crazy thing, and it's a little bit embarrassing.''
 
Lonegan, former state director of a Tea Party-supporting group, Americans for Prosperity, said he supported the government shutdown, calling it "a good way to find out which government services are essential,'' and as a way to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
 
Michael Diehl, 47, a computer technician who voted for Lonegan, said he also favored the shutdown "If that's what it takes to get them to stop spending down in Washington,'' He patted his shirt pocket. "I've got a mortgage (payment) check in my pocket right now,'' he said. "I've got to make that money, I can't keep putting it on a credit card. I've got to pay my bills.''
 
The shutdown "hurts my heart,'' said Glenda Hadnott, 60, a partner in an accounting consulting firm. "How do you let this great country all of a sudden have no money to pay Social Security or the military because you're playing some game?" she asked.
 
Hadnott voted for Booker because "I do not want to see another Republican in there. I don't feel the Republicans care about the middle class and poor.''
 
"Besides, I love Cory Booker,'' she added. "It's not because of his color,'' but because he is an "open personality,'' said Hadnott, who is African-American. "Cory will go out on the street and Cory will talk to anybody, and he won't put himself on a pedestal.''
 
Booker entered the race a heavy favorite: New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972. With a big fundraising advantage, he largely ignored Lonegan until the final two weeks, when opinion polls showed the race tightening to low double-digits. Then Booker began returning Lonegan's fire, calling the Republican an "extremist'' and pointing out Lonegan's opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
 
Long considered a rising Democratic star, Booker was able to call on President Obama, who carried New Jersey by nearly 17 percentage points last year, to make a last-minute video on his behalf.
 
Lonegan mocked Booker as "a tweeter, not a leader.'' Booker's fondness for Twitter – where he has 1.4 million followers — held through Election Day, when he tweeted at least 50 times, compared with about a dozen by Lonegan.
 
"I worry that he's too much hype and not enough substance,'' said Katie Norris, 47, a copy editor. A Democrat, she voted for Booker regardless. "Compared with Lonegan – I was not a fan,'' she said.
 
But Denise Eberly, 38, a theater technician, said Booker is simply communicating in a way that's important for an elected official. Booker's high social media profile is to his credit. "There's something to be said about being able to reach people and use the media that's available.''
 
When Booker replaces Sen. Jeff Chiesa, a Republican appointed by Christie to fill the seat vacated by Lautenberg, Senate Democrats gain an additional vote. That will widen their majority to 55, including two independents who generally vote Democratic, to 45 Republicans.
 
Contributing: Michael Symons; Associated Press.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Which Senators voted against the shutdown deal?

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Read Time:1 Minute, 40 Second
Here is the vote breakdown in the Senate for H.R. 2775 , to continue appropriations for the fiscal year, 2014.
 
Yea (81 votes):
 
Alexander (R-TN), Ayotte (R-NH), Baldwin (D-WI), Barrasso (R-WY), Baucus (D-MT), Begich (D-AK), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Blunt (R-MO), Boozman (R-AR), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Burr (R-NC), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Chambliss (R-GA), Chiesa (R-NJ), Coats (R-IN), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Corker (R-TN), Donnelly (D-IN), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Fischer (R-NE), Flake (R-AZ), Franken (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Graham (R-SC), Hagan (D-NC), Harkin (D-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Heinrich (D-NM), Heitkamp (D-ND), Hirono (D-HI), Hoeven (R-ND), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE)Johnson (D-SD), Kaine (D-VA), King (I-ME), Kirk (R-IL), Klobuchar (D-MN), Landrieu (D-LA), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Manchin (D-WV), Markey (D-MA), McCain (R-AZ), McCaskill (D-MO), McConnell (R-KY), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Moran (R-KS), Murkowski (R-AK), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Portman (R-OH), Pryor (D-AR), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT)Thune (R-SD), Udall (D-CO), Udall (D-NM), Warner (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wicker (R-MS), Wyden (D-OR)
 
Nay (18 votes):
 
Coburn (R-OK), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), Cruz (R-TX), Enzi (R-WY), Grassley (R-IA), Heller (R-NV), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT)Paul (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Rubio (R-FL), Scott (R-SC), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Toomey (R-PA), Vitter (R-LA)
 
Not Voting:
 
Inhofe (R-OK)

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Fox News Replaces ‘Obamacare’ With ‘Slavery’

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Read Time:2 Minute, 23 Second
Fox News has altered all news stories that mention the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare and replaced those words with “slavery.”
 
On FoxNews.com, an Associated Press story that initially read “Democrats say no to defunding Obamacare” was changed to “Democrats say no to defunding slavery.” All mentions of Obamacare in the story were also changed to “slavery.”
 
Other news stories posted online included “Tea Party to Congress: Repeal slavery now”; “Poll: 75% of Republicans, 15% of Democrats oppose slavery”; and “Obama says lasting legacy will be slavery.”
 
The network reportedly ordered the change in the terminology after Dr. Ben Carson, a Fox News pundit, compared Obamacare to slavery, claiming that, like slavery, Obamacare is a “clear evil” that will have a negative impact on society.
 
Politics and language
Critics of Fox News have often mocked it for altering or changing words to suit its agenda. The network was criticized this month for describing the ongoing government shutdown as a “slimdown.”
 
In the past, the network has demanded its hosts and journalists to describe the “public option” as a “government option.” It has also turned “suicide” bombers into “homicide” bombers and “feminists” into “man-hating bitches.”
 
The network’s new word choice of “slavery” caught on with its television hosts.
 
On Hannity, host Sean Hannity and guest contributors S.E. Cupp and Bob Beckel repeatedly used the word “slavery” in place of “Obamacare” during a debate about health care.
 
“I still cannot figure out why President Obama and the Democratic Party are so keen to force slavery on every American,” Hannity said. “The United States Constitution explicitly forbids slavery, yet it doesn’t seem to matter to this president.
 
“Let me tell you this: Just because Congress passed slavery and the Supreme Court uphelp slavery does not make slavery right.”
 
“You’re absolutely right, Sean,” Cupp said. “I don’t know a single American who is in favor of slavery, or who thinks they’ll be better off with slavery.
 
“Yet the liberal media would have you believe that slavery will help Americans who are going bankrupt and dying in the streets because they can’t afford to pay their doctors and hospital bills. It’s ridiculous.”
 
“I don’t understand why you conservatives are so opposed to slavery,” Beckel, the token liberal, added. “Slavery makes us more like Europe. Personally, I think slavery is the best thing to happen to America in years.”
 

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Obama: Washington can learn from Medal of Honor recipient

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Read Time:3 Minute, 39 Second
WASHINGTON — President Obama took a break from dealing with the fiscal crisis on Tuesday to award former Army captain William Swenson the Medal of Honor, making him the first Army officer to receive the military's highest honor since Vietnam.
 
Obama suggested that Washington could learn from Swenson, as he briefly reflected during the ceremony on the ongoing government shutdown and the precipice of default if Congress doesn't raise the nation's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
 
"At moments like this, Americans like Will remind us what our country can be at its best — a nation of citizens who look out for one another, who meet our obligations to one another not just when its easy but also when it is hard," Obama said. "Will, you are an example to everyone in this city and to our whole country of the professionalism and patriotism we should strive for if we wear a uniform or not."
 
Swenson became sixth living recipient of the honor from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was honored for his heroics in Afghanistan's Ganjgal Valley, where he was helping lead a column of American soldiers and Marines, and their Afghan counterparts, to meet a group of village elders. Swenson and his team were ambushed by some 60 well-armed Taliban fighters.
 
The American troops would face a barrage of rocket-propelled grenade, mortar and machine gun fire. Swenson would quickly coordinate a response of fire, while calling in artillery and aviation support, but the U.S. forces would become surrounded on three sides by the enemy. An hour into the fight communication with lead elements was lost.
 
At one point in the chaos, Swenson coordinated helicopter support, returning fire on the enemy and treating a critically wounded comrade, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook.
 
Obama remarked about combat video from the helicopter that came to evacuate Westbrook, which showed Swenson emerge from a cloud of dust. The video, which the Army released last month, captures Swenson in a "simple act of compassion and loyalty" to his wounded comrade, Obama said.
 
"He helps carry that wounded soldier to the helicopter and helps place him inside and then in the midst the whipping wind and deafening roar he does something unexpected," Obama said. "He leans in and kisses the wounded soldier on the head."
 
Swenson and the Americans would fight for at least six hours and took more casualties and were even denied artillery fire and air support, but they never relented as Swenson led the recovery of the dead and wounded, Obama said.
 
The recognition of Swenson for his gallantry marks only the second time in the last 50 years that two American servicemembers have received the Medal of Honor for actions in the same battle.
 
In 2011, Dakota Meyer, a Marine sergeant who also is now a civilian, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in that Sept. 8, 2009, battle in Afghanistan.
 
Swenson's medal comes with some controversy. Some, including Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., questioned whether the Defense Department purposely slow walked approval of the high honor. During an internal investigation of what happened at Ganjgal battle, Swenson told expressed dismay that his repeated calls for close air support were denied.
 
STORY: Soldier delivers 'salute seen around the world'
 
The Army later acknowledged that close air support was improperly denied, and two Army officers who were at the combat operations center when the calls came in received reprimands.
 
Meyer told the Marine Corps Times before he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011 that it was "ridiculous" Swenson already hadn't received some form of valor award.
 
"I'll put it this way," Meyer said of Swenson. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be alive today."
 
In brief remarks to reporters following the ceremony, Swenson said the honor belongs not just to him, but all those who fought beside him.
 
"This award was earned with a team, a team of our finest," Swenson said. "This medal represents them; it represents us."
 
Contributing: David Jackson

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Sheriff: Son killed after arguing with dad about football

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Read Time:2 Minute, 3 Second
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — An apparent fight over when to quit watching football turned deadly when a man fatally shot his teenage son, authorities say.
 
David Carrender, 49, was arrested at about 8:30 p.m. ET Sunday on a preliminary murder charge after his 19-year-old son, Wyatt Carrender, was shot to death in the family's home about 20 miles southeast of Indianapolis.
 
Morgan County Sheriff Robert Downey said the Carrenders had been watching football games at a restaurant and bar when they started fighting over whether to return home.
 
The son wanted to go home. The father did not. The argument continued after the pair returned home, Downey said.
 
"It appears the father retrieved a handgun and shot his son, it appears, six times," the sheriff said.
 
David Carrender, who does not have an arrest record in Morgan County, is thought to have been drinking, the sheriff said. The father's and son's girlfriends also were with the Carrenders when the shooting occurred.
 
"I heard a series of four, five gunshots real quick," Tony White, who lives across the street, told WISH-TV, Indianapolis. "I heard what I assumed was the young boy's girlfriend scream. She was asking him (the father) why he had done it. She was just in terrible shape."
 
Wyatt Carrender's girlfriend told officers that the elder Carrender had consumed 10 beers and several whiskey shots, according to the Indiana Daily Student. Her boyfriend was the designated driver.
 
Once the four were home, the fight escalated, according to the police report. The pair fought in the stairway, and Wyatt Carrender head-butted his father, sending him crashing down the stairs. That's when David Carrender retrieved his gun.
 
Wyatt Carrender was thought to have been living with his father, Downey said. But the teen's driver's license lists an address about 30 miles away in Bloomington, Ind., a Morgan County dispatcher said.
 
David Carrender is expected to be formally charged with murder but had not been as of Tuesday afternoon. No court date has been set, according to a deputy in the booking department. Carrender is being held in the Morgan County Jail without bond.
 
An autopsy on Wyatt Carrender also was expected to be performed Tuesday.
 
Contributing: Linda Dono, USA TODAY

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Soldier delivers ‘salute seen around the world’

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Read Time:2 Minute, 47 Second
An Army Ranger wounded in Afghanistan has the Internet buzzing with a photo that Web viewers have dubbed "the salute seen around the world."
 
Cpl. Josh Hargis, whose special operations unit is based at Fort Benning, Ga., was wounded Oct. 6 when an Afghan woman detonated a suicide bomb vest in Panjwai in Kandahar Province and triggered 13 other explosive devices. The blast killed four members of Hargis' 3rd Army Ranger Battalion and wounded 12 other American soldiers.
 
Hargis, a 2008 graduate of Cincinnati's Gilbert Dater High School, went to a nearby military hospital. His numerous wounds called for him to hooked up to a breathing tube and other medical plumbing.
 
"Josh was seriously wounded, as you know, and survived for almost two hours after his injury before arriving to the hospital," Hargis' commander wrote Saturday to the soldier's wife, Taylor Hargis, who was at their home in Columbus, Ga.
 
His right hand was heavily bandaged. That hand, his saluting hand, rested under red, white and blue blankets when his commanding officer came into his room to present Hargis with a Purple Heart.
 
"Josh had just come out of surgery. Everyone in the room, probably about 50 people, figured he was unconscious," Taylor Hargis said Tuesday. The soldier's wife of 2½ years spoke by phone from San Antonio, Texas, where her husband will be hospitalized. He is en route from an American military hospital in Germany.
 
Yet, as the Purple Heart presentation began, Josh Hargis struggled to move his right hand and lift it into a saluting position. Military protocol calls for a soldier to salute when he receives the Purple Heart.
 
A doctor tried to restrain the wounded soldier's right arm. It was, alas, a losing battle.
 
"He had no idea how strong and driven my husband is," said Taylor Hargis, who went to high school in Fort Myers, Fla.
 
In pain from his wounds, still groggy from surgery, bandaged, hooked up to yards of tubes and without opening his blue-green eyes, Hargis delivered what his wife described as "the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen."
 
The commanding officer told her the salute left everyone in the room in tears.
 
"I would have cried, too," Taylor Hargis said. "I also would have told him how proud I am of him, how proud I am to be his wife, how proud I am of the people he's serving with over in Afghanistan."
 
She also would have told him she was not surprised by his hospital-bed salute.
 
"He was just showing what it means to be a warrior and an American soldier," Taylor Hargis said.
 
Since the photo was taken of "the salute around the world," the corporal's breathing tube has been removed. Josh and Taylor Hargis have exchanged phone calls. She knows from the sound of his voice "he's going to be just fine."
 
Here's why: "If you want to know the meaning of strong, it's an Army Ranger," she said.
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Government shutdown threatens Marine Corps Marathon

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The government shutdown on Tuesday brought more panic to a world already feeling insecure due to disasters – the world of distance running.
 
At about 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, the organizers of the Marine Corps Marathon issued a note on the Facebook page of the race saying that the Oct. 27 event was in danger of being cancelled without a government shutdown resolution this week. Even earlier Tuesday, the running community on social media circulated an article that said the race of 30,000 runners was in danger.
 
"While still considering and exploring all possible options, the MCM has targeted this Saturday, October 19 as the date to officially notify runners of the status of the event," the Facebook note read. "It is sincerely the hope of everyone associated with the organization of this event that MCM participants can run as planned."
 
Marathon organizers did not respond to a telephone message or email request for comment.
 
While the Marine Corps Marathon, which begins in Virginia and winds past many national monuments and government and tourist sites, is not one of the five World Marathon Majors, it is a major goal race for many runners — on the order of the Chicago Marathon — and fills up within a few hours of being opened up to the public. It is a signature part of the busy fall marathon season.
 
The news comes almost one year after the ING New York City Marathon was cancelled last November in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and six months after bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon left three dead and more than 140 injured.
 
Frustration and panic among runners was evident Tuesday on social media, as runners commiserated with one another. A Facebook page surfaced titled "Marine Corps Marathon (with or without gov't approval)" as some runners vowed to run the course regardless of whether the marathon was cancelled.
 
Beatrice Whitaker, a runner from Brooklyn, N.Y., is hoping to run the Marine Corps Marathon as her first marathon and has been on pins and needles since the shutdown began Oct. 1.
 
"I've been kind of concerned for awhile, since the beginning of last week, because I know that a lot of the course goes over national park territory," said Whitaker, 35, an ophthalmologist who is a member of the group Black Girls RUN!
 
Whitaker said she is frustrated because she has put in many hours of training, peaking at 40 miles a week, and was looking forward to the weekend in Washington, where she's run two other races.
 
"It's something that you spend months working towards," she said. "To hear that it may not happen is frustrating."
 
Galen Garrison, a runner from Salt Lake City, is hoping to make this year's Marine Corps Marathon his fourth go at the race. The 26.2-mile event holds special significance for him because he is a former Naval officer candidate and his father was in the military. This year, he and several other friends who are members of Marathon Maniacs – people who run marathons close together in time — plan to run with a photo pinned to their shirts of a runner's son, a Marine who died in combat.
 
"When you do that race, you're running alongside people wearing prosthetics, many of them young enough to be my children, boys and girls, and I'm thinking, 'I just do this for fun. This sport is just a hobby. They lived, some of their friends did not and they sacrificed all,' " says Garrison, 48, an IT project manager who has run almost 150 marathons.
 
"Sometimes, they're running with rucksacks, full boots or camouflage. It's an emotionally moving race. I don't think there's anything else like it."
 
Garrison says he is a Libertarian and that he is frustrated with the inability of both major political parties to come together on this.
 
"I know it's not simple, but I do feel that when one party says, 'If you send me a clean resolution, then I'll approve it,' that's not negotiation," he says. "On the other hand, the Republicans seem like they've got an ax to grind so they're trying to win political points and that's hurting everybody."
 
Garrison, like many others, says if the race is cancelled, he will simply show up in Washington and run the course. That was what runners did last year in New York's Central Park after the marathon there was cancelled.
 
But Garrison also was hoping to run New York, which is scheduled for Nov. 3, and though that race is a few days more in the distance than the Marine race, he is concerned about that too. Several days ago, New York Road Runners issued a statement saying it was doing everything it can to insure the shutdown does not affect the race, which takes off from Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, a site maintained by the National Park Service.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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GOP asks: Why were national parks shut down, anyway?

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Read Time:4 Minute, 44 Second
WASHINGTON — House Republicans plan to take aim at the Obama administration on Wednesday for temporarily shuttering properties managed by the National Park Service during the federal government shutdown, spotlighting what has become an emotional battleground in the grinding impasse.
 
Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell agreed last week to allow states to cover the costs of operating the country's 401 Park Service properties. But Republican lawmakers and local community officials in some communities affected by the shutdown are raising questions about why it took 10 days for the Interior Department to agree to such a plan, when a precedent for such arrangements was set during the 1995 and 1996 government shutdown.
 
The issue will be subject of a joint hearing called by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. They plan to quiz National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, who was subpoenaed to testify at the hearing.
 
The National Park Service made clear ahead of the latest shutdown, which began Oct. 1, that more than 400 national parks and properties would be shuttered as nearly all of the National Park Service employees would face furloughs.
 
But the NPS quickly found itself facing criticism from Republicans, including Issa and Hastings, who have pointed to the agency setting up barricades at open-air monuments such as the World War II Memorial and placing traffic cones along highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore as unnecessary and provocative steps meant to underscore the pain and visibility of the government shutdown.
 
The Obama administration critics also note that during the second government shutdown of 1995-96, the Interior Department allowed some national parks — including the South Rim of the Grand Canyon — to reopen at the expense of state governments, which were eventually reimbursed when the federal government reopened.
 
"If they set precedent in 1995-96, why couldn't that precedent be followed today?" said Gregory Bryan, mayor of the town of Tusayan, Ariz., near the Grand Canyon. "I have a hard time believing it took them 10 days to figure out a new policy."
 
Blake Androff, an Interior Department spokesman, said Tuesday that officials worked quickly to find ways to minimize the pain caused to communities that were feeling the pinch of the park closure caused by the government shutdown.
 
"After securing the 401 closed national parks and furloughing 20,000 National Park Service employees, the NPS worked expeditiously where possible with extremely limited resources to find temporary and practical solutions to lessen the pain of this shutdown," Androff said.
 
Bryan, who will testify at Wednesday's hearing, said he and other officials in his community began raising questions on Oct. 1 with the National Park Service superintendent for the Grand Canyon about Tusayan and the state of Arizona covering costs during the shutdown but were told it was against National Park Service policy to reopen national parks with third-party funding. Meanwhile, Tusayan and surrounding communities estimated they were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each day because of lost tourism.
 
The town enlisted the help of Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, but none were able to get a legal explanation of why NPS was prohibited from using their money to reopen the park. Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's office said they were also being told that third-party funding could not be used.
 
But on Oct. 10, the Interior Department announced it would open negotiations with states willing to cover costs of reopening NPS-operated sites. The next day, Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota and Utah all announced they had come to agreements with the Interior Department to reopen NPS-operated properties in their states.
 
"The administration just wanted the American people to feel the pain of the shutdown in a very visible way," Bryan said.
 
Anna Eberly, managing director of Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, Va., which is on National Park property but operates independently of the Park Service, said she struggled to get a satisfactory answer for why the service closed the farm for most of the first nine days of the shutdown. The farm was not closed in the 1995-96 shutdowns, she said.
 
"I don't know if Obama said go and [annoy] the American people," said Eberly, who is also scheduled to testify at Wednesday's hearing. "But there was a shutdown less than 20 years ago. People remember that and what happened then. This situation is just bone-headed."
 
In a letter to Jarvis on Tuesday, Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote that the "NPS response to the partial government shutdown appears to be ad-hoc, inconsistent, and without sensible guidance to states, local communities and the public at large."
 
Rep. DeFazio, D-Ore., accused Republicans of causing "a sideshow" by calling the hearing in the midst of the fiscal crisis and demanding the appearance of Jarvis, who had asked for such a hearing to be delayed until after the shutdown was resolved.
 
"We are more than two weeks into an unnecessary and irresponsible government shutdown and the same Republican obstructionists that caused the shutdown are threatening the full faith and credit of the United States," he said. "And yet on the eve of this calamity, House Republicans insist on a hearing on park closures."

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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