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Department of Transportation to Review NHTSA Following Handling of Automobile Recall


csakisti/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Transportation will conduct a review of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on the heels of a number of automobile recalls this year, a senior administration official confirmed to ABC News.

The New York Times reports that the administration is concerned about the NHTSA's handling of recent recalls. Earlier this week, the agency urged drivers to "act immediately" to have repairs done regarding faulty airbags, however, several automakers were unprepared to make those repairs.

Additionally, a tool on the NHTSA website that helps drivers identify whether their car is affected by outstanding recalls was non-responsive for more than a day.

The most recent recall, of Takata Company airbags, involved nearly eight million vehicles.

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Holder Announces Federal Government to Recognize Same-Sex Married Couples in Six More States


Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. government will recognize same-sex married couples in six more states, Attorney General Eric Holder said Saturday.

The move is yet another development after the Supreme Court decided earlier in October not to hear any pending cases regarding same-sex marriage. The federal government will now recognize same-sex married couples in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Holder made a similar announcement last week with respect to seven other states. Saturday's action brings the total number of states where the federal government recognizes same-sex married couples to 32, plus the District of Columbia.

"With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized," Holder said in a statement, "our nation moves closer to achieving...full equality for all Americans." The government will work with those states "to ensure that same-sex married couples...receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under the law."

Holder also announced Saturday that the Department of Justice determined that it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin in June. A number of marriages were performed after federal district courts ruled those states' bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but later legal developments created confusion about the status of those marriages.'

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Obama Talks About Ebola in America in Weekly Address


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's address, President Obama talks about Ebola in America, from the death of Thomas Eric Duncan to the most recent case in New York City.

Obama addresses what he says are some "basic facts." "First, you cannot get Ebola easily," he says. "You can’t get it through casual contact with someone.  Remember, down in Dallas, even Mr. Duncan’s family—who lived with him and helped care for him—even they did not get Ebola.  The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with symptoms.  That’s the science.  Those are the facts."

Obama also highlights the newest CDC guidelines and travel measures going forward.

Read the full transcript of the president's address:

"Hi everybody, this week, we remained focused on our fight against Ebola.  In Dallas, dozens of family, friends and others who had been in close contact with the first patient, Mr. Duncan, were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease is actually very hard to catch.  Across Dallas, others being monitored—including health care workers who were most at risk—were also declared Ebola-free.


Two Americans—patients in Georgia and Nebraska who contracted the disease in West Africa—recovered and were released from the hospital.  The first of the two Dallas nurses who were diagnosed—Nina Pham—was declared Ebola free, and yesterday I was proud to welcome her to the Oval Office and give her a big hug.  The other nurse—Amber Vinson—continues to improve as well.  And in Africa, the countries of Senegal and Nigeria were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease can be contained and defeated.

In New York City, medical personnel moved quickly to isolate and care for the patient there—a doctor who recently returned from West Africa.  The city and state of New York have strong public health systems, and they’ve been preparing for this possibility.  Because of the steps we’ve taken in recent weeks, our CDC experts were already at the hospital, helping staff prepare for this kind of situation.  Before the patient was even diagnosed, we deployed one of our new CDC rapid response teams. And I’ve assured Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that they’ll have all the federal support they need as they go forward. 

More broadly, this week we continued to step up our efforts across the country.  New CDC guidelines and outreach is helping hospitals improve training and protect their health care workers.  The Defense Department’s new team of doctors, nurses and trainers will respond quickly if called upon to help. 

New travel measures are now directing all travelers from the three affected countries in West Africa into five U.S. airports where we’re conducting additional screening.  Starting this week, these travelers will be required to report their temperatures and any symptoms on a daily basis—for 21 days until we’re confident they don’t have Ebola.  Here at the White House, my new Ebola response coordinator is working to ensure a seamless response across the federal government.  And we have been examining the protocols for protecting our brave health care workers, and, guided by the science, we’ll continue to work with state and local officials to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and health of the American people.

In closing, I want to leave you with some basic facts.  First, you cannot get Ebola easily.  You can’t get it through casual contact with someone.  Remember, down in Dallas, even Mr. Duncan’s family—who lived with him and helped care for him—even they did not get Ebola.  The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with symptoms.  That’s the science.  Those are the facts.

Sadly, Mr. Duncan did not survive, and we continue to keep his family in our prayers.  At the same time, it’s important to remember that of the seven Americans treated so far for Ebola—the five who contracted it in West Africa, plus the two nurses from Dallas—all seven have survived.  Let me say that again—seven Americans treated; all seven survived.  I’ve had two of them in the Oval Office.  And now we’re focused on making sure the patient in New York receives the best care as well. 

Here’s the bottom line.  Patients can beat this disease.  And we can beat this disease.  But we have to stay vigilant.  We have to work together at every level—federal, state and local.  And we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source—in West Africa.

And we have to be guided by the science—we have to be guided by the facts, not fear.  Yesterday, New Yorkers showed us the way. They did what they do every day—jumping on buses, riding the subway, crowding into elevators, heading into work, gathering in parks.  That spirit—that determination to carry on—is part of what makes New York one of the great cities in the world.  And that’s the spirit all of us can draw upon, as Americans, as we meet this challenge together."

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GOP Weekly Address: US Needs 'New Energy to Keep Our Country Strong'


Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's GOP Address, Will Hurd, who is running for representative of Texas' 23rd Congressional District, critiques the Obama administration and says he wants "to get this mess in Washington cleaned up once and for all."

Looking forward, Hurd says the country needs new energy to stay strong.

Hurd says the government should "clean up the mess of debt and waste by balancing our budget and simplifying our tax code" and "reduce the burdens on middle class families and small business owners who are trying to achieve the American Dream."

Read the full transcript of the GOP address:

"Good morning.

My name is Will Hurd.

My hope is to be elected representative of Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.

Because, like you, I want to get this mess in Washington cleaned up once and for all.

For too long, we’ve had an administration in DC that spends too much and listens too little, that thinks the answer to every question is more government.  But when we can’t trust that government to protect our economy … secure our borders … to provide basic services to our veterans, we know something has to change.

Now, the president expects you to go to the polls and stick with the people who have stuck with him.   To stick with the politicians who helped him push through ObamaCare…who helped him block solutions that would create jobs.

“These are all folks who vote with me,” he said.

But don’t we want representatives who vote with us?  Don’t we want to send to Washington leaders who will take on the tough issues and focus on getting things done?  

I’ve been in real fights – as an overseas officer in the CIA, I witnessed folks struggling for freedom and stared down those trying to end our way of life.

And working in the private sector trying to help companies compete, I see how our government is threatening our economic security.

We need to clean up the mess of debt and waste by balancing our budget and simplifying our tax code.

We need to reduce the burdens on middle class families and small business owners who are trying to achieve the American Dream.

We need to ensure our ability to be energy independent.

And we need to make border security, countering drug traffickers and fighting cyber criminals all national priorities.

It is time we come together to do these things.

America doesn’t need more politicians who vote in lock step with the president.  We need new energy to keep our country strong, at home and abroad.

Fellow Texans and Americans, this is the opportunity we face in ten days time.  This is our moment.

Let’s stand together and take our government back from the bureaucrats in Washington and put the power where it belongs: in the hands of the people.   

Thank you for listening."
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Lawmakers Pushing for Expanded Recall on Defective Airbags


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Some lawmakers in Congress are saying that every defective airbag — which could mean millions more than the 20 million devices already suggested — should be recalled, not just in the South where most of the airbag recalls have been focused.

“I want [the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration] to recall all airbags regardless of where they are, not just in warm states,” said Sen. Edward Mackey, D-Massachusetts. “And I want them to offer every driver a loaner car.”

The problem with the airbags is that the defective inflator can explode with too much force, shattering the metal into shards that, car safety advocates say, are believed to have killed four people and caused dozens of injuries. The airbag problem is linked to cars in states where there’s persistent humid weather.

Corey Burdick, 26, of Eustis, Florida, lost sight in his right eye when his car collided with another vehicle in May and the airbag inflated. A piece of metal shot out from the airbag and hit him in the face.

“It was a like a ‘Boom!’ and I remember closing my eyes,” he told ABC News. “I put my hand up to my face … and there was blood everywhere.”

Takata, the manufacturer of the airbag inflators, has said it is “cooperating” with the recall.

The NHTSA has said that there are not enough replacement inflators for the cars currently being recalled.  If the recall is expanded, as lawmakers have urged, it could take years to replace the airbags.

The NHTSA said it has been in contact with Takata to try to expand production of replacement units and has asked the company to look at outside sources to help boost production.


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Hillary Clinton Showers Elizabeth Warren With 'Love'


State Department(BOSTON) -- Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren both stumped for Massachusetts governor candidate Martha Coakley on Friday, and one thing was clear: Hillary hearts Elizabeth.

"I love watching Elizabeth," Clinton gushed about the populist Massachusetts senator. "You know, give it to those who deserve to get it. Standing up not only for you, but people with the same needs and same wants across our country. It's a great pleasure to be here in a state that has such tremendous tradition of leadership."

Clinton called Warren a "passionate champion for working people and middle class families."

However, the two did not appear on stage together at the rally, and there's been speculation both might consider a run in 2016, even though Warren has denied it. Clinton has not announced whether she will run.

Warren was also kind to Clinton, but not nearly as effusive.

"I'm happy to welcome Secretary Clinton back to the commonwealth," Warren said. "We love it."

Warren seemed to downplay their relationship in a recent interview with People.

"We have talked. It's not much more than that," Warren told the magazine. "Not much more."

They did, however, exchange stories about their grandchildren backstage.

"Backstage before we came on, Governor (Patrick Deval) and Senator Warren were trading grandchild stories. I don’t even have a month's worth of stories," Clinton said. "Looking at the smile on Elizabeth's face and the excitement on Deval's face, I thought when all is said and done that's what this is supposed to be about."

Clinton used the anecdote to introduce a line that has become a staple of her 2014 campaign speeches: "How do we give the best future we can to every single child? You should not have to be a grandchild of a governor, a senator, a secretary of state to have the same opportunity that we were given in previous years."

Both Clinton and Warren have been busy this fall campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates. On Sunday, Warren will be on the campaign trail in New Hampshire and on Wednesday, Clinton heads to Iowa.

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James Foley Honored with Award at US Institute of Peace


ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- James Foley, the first journalist beheaded by ISIS, was honored with an award for extraordinary courage.

Former President Clinton nominated Foley for the award, which was presented at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

Foley's father, John, said, "This is recognition of Jim's courage. His sacrifice and his love of his fellow man his fellow captives, and we couldn't be more proud to be his parents."

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Ebola-Free Nurse Nina Pham Visits President Obama


Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) -- Before returning to her "normal life" in Texas, newly Ebola-free Dallas nurse Nina Pham got a hug from President Obama in the Oval Office.

Hours earlier, Pham had walked out of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, where she has been in isolation since Oct. 16, to a round of applause. She thanked everyone who cared for her since her Oct. 11 Ebola diagnosis, and said she would finally go home to her dog, Bentley.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," she told reporters, adding that she hopes to return to her "normal life."

Pham, 26, contracted Ebola from Liberian national Thomas Duncan, who flew to the United States in September and was diagnosed with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Pham, a nurse there, cared for Duncan when he was especially contagious. He died on Oct. 8, and she tested positive for the deadly virus three days later.

It was the first Ebola transmission on U.S. soil.

"I am on my way back to recovery even as I reflect on others who have not been so fortunate," Pham said, reading from her prepared statement at the press conference.

Pham's colleague, nurse Amber Vinson, 29, also tested positive for the virus on Oct. 15, and was flown from Dallas to Emory University Hospital later that night. The following day, Pham was flown to the Special Clinical Studies Unit of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, at the Dallas hospital's request.

At the news conference announcing Pham's discharge, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said she tested negative for Ebola five times, and that it wasn't clear which treatment saved her because they were all experimental.

"I want to first tell you what a great pleasure and in many respects, a privilege ...to have the opportunity to treat and care for and get to know such an extremely courageous and lovely person," Fauci said, adding that she represents the health care workers who "put themselves on the line"

He said he wore Pham's nursing school colors for the press conference in her honor.

"I'm going to miss Nina a lot," Fauci quipped at the end of the conference, adding that he gave her his cellphone number.

Pham also thanked Dr. Kent Brantly, the American missionary who had been treating Ebola patients in Liberia when he contracted the deadly virus in late July. Brantly was declared virus-free in September and has donated plasma to Pham and other American Ebola patients in the hopes of boosting their ability to fight the virus with his antibodies.

Pham's dog, Bentley, was taken to an animal shelter following her diagnosis. He has tested negative for Ebola, but his 21-day incubation period isn't over until Nov. 1. They will likely reunite a few days later.

Vinson's family announced on Oct. 22 that she, too, tested negative for the virus at Emory.

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Elton John Announces AIDS Partnership with US Government


US State Dept (WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry hosted superstar Elton John in Washington, D.C. Friday, where the two announced a $7 million partnership between John's AIDS foundation and the United States HIV/AIDS eradication effort, PEPFAR.

But perhaps caught up in the excitement of the announcement, Sir Elton gave Kerry a demotion, calling him "Senator."

It's not the first time Kerry had an unscripted moment with a famous philanthropist. There was also a bromantic moment caught on camera between him and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

And that time Ben Affleck shook his hand/squeezed his bicep:

In the end, all those awkward photo ops are for a good cause. In addition to Sir Elton raising money for AIDS initiatives, DiCaprio was part of a campaign to help the world's oceans, and Affleck was in Washington to bring attention to the humanitarian situation in the Congo.

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First Lady Flubs Again on Campaign Trail


Samantha Appleton / The White House(DENVER) -- First lady Michelle Obama has been touring the country for Democratic candidates -- and making headlines along the way for notable gaffes.

Earlier this month in Iowa, she referred to Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley as Bruce “Bailey,” before correcting herself in a follow-up appearance in Iowa City.

In Colorado Thursday, she called Democratic Sen. Mark Udall a “fifth-generation Coloradan,” though he was born in Arizona.

It’s Udall’s opponent, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who is a fifth-generation Coloradan.

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Sarah Palin Backs Independent in Alaska's Governor's Race


(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin has backed Alaska’s Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker over Republican Sean Parnell, her former lieutenant governor.

Palin held an event earlier this week at her Wasilla home for Walker and his Democratic running mate.

Parnell was not only Palin's number two, but took over when she stepped down in 2009. The two had a high profile disagreement earlier this year, taking opposite sides on a referendum over Alaska’s oil and gas taxes, Palin's signature legislation while she was the state’s governor.

According to a release Wednesday from the Walker campaign, both Walker and his running mate Byron Mallot, along with their families, attended the reception hosted by Palin and her husband Todd.

The campaign says Sarah Palin addressed the crowd of about 100 guests, saying she is backing the candidates, known as the “unity ticket,” because she “trust[s] them to develop our God-given resources responsibly and to the maximum benefit of Alaskans.”

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Poll: Sen. Mark Udall Still Leads Colorado Senate Race


US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Cory Gardner is still ahead of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, with the Republican leading Udall 46 to 41 percent among likely voters, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll out Friday.

The results are similar to the five-point lead Gardner had in Quinnipiac's poll last week.

The poll also shows 6 percent are for Independent candidate Steve Shogan, while another 6 percent are undecided.

Among women, 45 to 41 percent are backing Udall, while 51 to 38 percent of men are for Gardner.

Gardner is leading with independent voters, getting 41 percent to Udall’s 40 percent.

And with just 11 days to go, much of Colorado’s likely voters have made up their mind with 92 percent decided.

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Jeanne Shaheen, Scott Brown Square Off in NH Senate Debate


US Senate(CONCORD, N.H.) -- New Hampshire Senate candidates Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown faced off again Thursday night in their second live televised debate.

The match up was dominated by questions on Ebola, and Shaheen accused Brown of “fear mongering” on the issue, as she did on the dangers of ISIS.

Brown tried to wiggle out of earlier comments he made that the country would not be worrying about Ebola if Mitt Romney was president, but the moderator read the entire quote pressing him.

Later in the debate, the issue of President Obama’s campaign schedule came up when Shaheen was asked why she doesn’t want him to stump with her in the Granite State.

She answered she never said she doesn’t want the president to campaign with her, but “the fact is he’s busy.”

When asked directly if she does want Obama to campaign with her, she said no: “We have a lot going on, I don’t think it makes sense for the president to come to New Hampshire right now.”

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Former Secretary of State Albright Burns Conan O'Brien on Twitter


Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images for Fortune Magazine(NEW YORK) -- Madeleine Albright proved to be a good sport when Conan O'Brien cracked a joke on Twitter that name-checked the former U.S. secretary of state.

On Thursday afternoon, the TBS late-night host quipped, "I picked out my Halloween costume. I’m going as 'Slutty Madeleine Albright.'"

Albright, 77, rose up to the challenge and tweeted a joke of her own, at O'Brien's expense: "I'm considering going as hunky Conan O'Brien -- but that might be too far fetched."

O'Brien got a kick out of Albright's response. He responded, "YES -- My first twitter war with a former Secretary of State! You're next, George P. Shultz!"

Perhaps trying to get the last word in the exchange, Albright wrote back, "Never get into a word war with a diplomat. We talk even more than comedians."

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Will First Lady Run for the Senate in '18?


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Senator Michelle Obama?

The New York Post's Page Six said Thursday that close friends of President Obama are egging on the first lady to run for the U.S. Senate seat from California in 2018.

In a report Thursday in Orbmagazine.com, California Senator Dianne Feinstein has been dropping hints that this will her last term. Feinstein is 81.

Neither the president nor his wife have indicated what their post-White House plans are after 2016.

However, the Post says that a friend familiar with the first couple mused that California would be the perfect environment since, "Barack could golf year-round, and Michelle could emerge from his shadow after 20 years and retake control of her own life."

The first lady has been previously quoted as saying she has no interest in a political life after her husband's second term is up.

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