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Obama Urges West Africans Not to Touch Bodies of Ebola Victims in Video


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In a video released by the U.S. State Department and posted to YouTube, President Obama urged West Africans not to touch the bodies of family members who have died from Ebola.

"When burying someone who has died from this terrible disease," Obama said, "it's important to not directly touch their body. You can respect your traditions and honor your loved ones without risking the lives of the living."

The World Health Organization has noted that burial practices involving physical contact with corpses may play a role in the transmission of Ebola. The disease has spread to at least four countries in West Africa and threatens to infect even more people if action isn't taken to halt it.

Obama addressed the video to "you, the people of West Africa," and reassured West Africans that the U.S. and other nations will continue to work with the West African governments to fight the Ebola outbreak.

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Lost in America: Visa Program Struggles to Track Missing Foreign Students


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Homeland Security has lost track of more than 6,000 foreign nationals who entered the United States on student visas, overstayed their welcome, and essentially vanished -- exploiting a security gap that was supposed to be fixed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

"My greatest concern is that they could be doing anything," said Peter Edge, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who oversees investigations into visa violators. "Some of them could be here to do us harm."

Homeland Security officials disclosed the breadth of the student visa problem in response to ABC News questions submitted as part of an investigation into persistent complaints about the nation’s entry program for students.

ABC News found that immigration officials have struggled to keep track of the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign students coming to the U.S. -- now in excess of one million each year. The immigration agency’s own figures show that 58,000 students overstayed their visas in the past year. Of those, 6,000 were referred to agents for follow-up because they were determined to be of heightened concern.

“They just disappear,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “They get the visas and they disappear.”

Coburn said since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the U.S. on terror-related charges.

Tightening up the student visa program was one of the major recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, after it was determined that the hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour, had entered the U.S. on a student visa but never showed up for school.

Edge said ICE agents are trying to locate every one of the 6,000 missing students, but acknowledged that “we really have a lot more work to do” to tighten up the student visa program.

Despite repeated concerns raised by Congress, federal immigration officials have also continued to grant schools certification to accept overseas applicants even if the schools lack accreditation, state certification, or any obvious measure of academic rigor.

There are now more than 9,000 schools on the government approved list. The list includes such top flight American colleges as Harvard and Yale, but it also includes 86 beauty schools, 36 massage schools and nine schools that teach horseshoeing. Foreign students can enter the U.S. on a visa to study acupuncture, hair braiding, or join academies that focus on tennis and golf.

Once the student arrives in the U.S., it is up to the schools to keep track of the visa-holder’s whereabouts -- and report to the government if they repeatedly miss class.

That is a serious concern, Coburn said, because a number of for-profit schools appear to have been operating with a primary goal of selling visas, not educating students.

“We know we have a lot of non-accredited universities that are using this system to bring people in, collect money, and not educate them at all,” said Coburn, who is part of a bi-partisan group of senators that has been trying to tighten controls on student visas. “To me, it’s a mess.”

One school on the approved list, MicroPower Career Institute, licensed by the state of New York, continues to have four campuses on the approved list, even though five of the school’s top officials -- including its president -- were indicted on charges of visa fraud in May. According to the indictment, 80 percent of the foreign students enrolled MicroPower had delinquent attendance, putting them out of compliance with their visas. But the school did not report them, the indictment says. All five school officials have pleaded not guilty in the case.

ABC News visited MicroPower’s small fifth floor campus in a Manhattan office suite, but the school declined to make anyone available to comment.

Edge, who is Executive Associate Director at for ICE Homeland Security Investigations, said his agency had no choice but to continue to allow MicroPower to facilitate student visas.

“I can only say that this is the United States of America and everyone has due process,” Edge said.

The MicroPower case is one of several that touch on broader questions long raised about the student visa program.

Thomas Kean 9/11 Commission Co-Chair said the government has yet to address the security gaps the program has created. He said was stunned the federal government continues to lose track of so many foreign nationals who had entered the country with student visas. He noted that, even before the 9/11 terror attacks, federal officials had been aware of the gaps in the student visa program. The man who drove the van containing explosives into the World Trade Center garage in 1993 was also a student visa holder who was a no-show at school.

“It's been pointed out over and over and over again and the fact that nothing has been done about it yet...it's a very dangerous thing for all of us,” Kean said. “The fact that there's been no action on this is very bothersome.”

Janice Kephart, who was counsel to the 9/11 Commission and co-author of a separate report looking at how the hijackers entered the U.S., said the credibility of schools certified by ICE is another significant concern.

“When schools are not legitimate that enables terrorists to come here under a fraudulent basis and disappear into the fabric of society without anybody knowing that they are here for illegitimate reason,” Kephart said, “because the system itself will say they're here legitimately when in fact they're not.”

ICE has taken steps to address the issue, especially in the aftermath of a damning report by the Government Accountability Office in 2012, which found the agency had failed to adequately police for visa fraud. ICE officials told ABC News, for instance, that it has undertaken a new program to deploy field representatives around the country to personally inspect schools that had been approved to accept foreign students. So far, 15 field representatives have been hired, with a plan to ultimately employ 60 around the country, according to spokesperson Carissa Cutrell.

The agency has also launched a program -- so far installed at one airport, but planned for others -- that will immediately alert a customs inspector if a student is attempting to re-enter the country after their status has been flagged by a school official.

“We’re continually making improvements,” Cutrell said.

Edge said part of the blame for the continued trouble with the student visa program stems from a Congress that has been unwilling to impose tighter limits on schools -- many of which profit from tuition paid by foreign students.

Coburn, as well as Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Chuck Schumer, D-NY, were among those pushing for limiting ICE certification to accredited schools in 2012. But that effort stalled in the House of Representatives.

Rachel Banks, the director of public policy for NAFSA, the association of international educators, said her group has been working to promote opportunities for foreign study in the U.S. She said the group understands the need to monitor the arrival and departure of foreign nationals, but it should not come at the expense of legitimate applicants seeking to study in America.

“Students should not be scapegoated,” Banks said. “Foreign students are an asset and not a threat.”

The effort to expand options for foreign study appear to be prevailing. According to figures gathered by congressional investigators, the number of foreign nationals obtaining visas to study in the U.S. has grown from 662,966 in 2003 to more than 1.2 million in 2012.

Edge said his agency has accepted that those numbers represent a continued challenge for the Department of Homeland Security.

“Our work has only begun,” he said. “We have a lot more work to do in this space.”

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President Obama Heads to Europe, NATO Summit to Discuss Tension in Ukraine


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will head to Europe on Tuesday to take part in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit to discuss, among other things, the continued tension caused by Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

Obama will first land in Estonia, where he is expected to reaffirm the U.S.' stance that Russia should not get involved in the independent nations. At his second stop, the president will meet with other NATO leaders, but without Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Wales.

While Ukraine is not a NATO member, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was invited to this week's summit.

In a statement, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, highlighted the importance of "collective defense," "crisis management" and "partnerships," in handling the situation in Ukraine. The summit, initially planned to mark an end to the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan, will still touch on that subject as well, Vershbow said.

NATO is expected to form a "spearhead" force in response to Russian actions, which will be "ready to respond at short notice."

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Eric Cantor to Join Investment Bank


US House of Representatives(NEW YORK) -- Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been appointed Vice Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors of Moelis & Company, a global investment bank.

According to a release posted to Moelis & Company's website, Cantor will "provide strategic counsel to the Firm's corporate and institutional clients on key issues." He will also be involved in client development.

Cantor said that when considering his post-politics career, he "wanted to join a firm with a great entrepreneurial spirit that focused on its clients." Citing admiration of the vision of Moelis & Company, Cantor said that he felt the company was "a place where I knew my skills could help clients succeed."

The company's Chairman and CEO, Ken Moelis, called the former Republican Congressman "a pro-business advocate and one who will enhance our boardroom discussions with CEOs and senior management as we help them navigate their most important strategic decisions."

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Obama: 'Every Gray Hair Is Worth It'


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(MILWAUKEE) -- Fired up and in campaign form, President Obama delivered what appeared to be a pre-midterm stump speech on Monday to labor activists in Wisconsin, the state that became the labor movement's political epicenter in 2011.

"Every gray hair is worth it," he told the crowd, of pressing for economic policies such as a higher minimum wage in the face of GOP resistance.

"The American economy and American workers are better off than when I took office," he said.

Obama spoke at Laborfest 2014, a Labor Day rally in Henry Maier Festival Park. Supporters standing behind him and out in the audience wore green AFSCME and purple SEIU t-shirts.

It was a typical economic stump speech of the kind Obama has delivered over and over in American cities this year, with calls for higher wages, criticism of Republicans for blocking them, and pleas for a better life for working-class Americans.

But Monday, the president was more expressly political, exhorting the crowd to organize and vote Democratic in this fall’s midterm elections.

"I'd also want more Democrats looking out for me, I'm just saying," Obama said, after telling the crowd that if he were a worker looking for better wages and safety protections, he'd join a union.

Shouting and appearing visibly riled, Obama reminded the crowd of union and Democratic-Party victories in securing a 40-hour workweek and supporting Medicare and Social Security.

Earlier on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden delivered a similarly political, and similarly populist speech to a Labor Day rally hosted by union organizers in Detroit.

The president traveled to Wisconsin for this one appearance and was to return to the White House before departing Tuesday for Estonia and this week's NATO summit in Wales.

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Congresswoman and Iraq War Vet Tammy Duckworth is Pregnant


Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has announced she's pregnant.

In 2004, the veteran lost both of her legs and part of an arm when her helicopter was shot down in the Iraq War.

She says she became pregnant through a form of in vitro fertilization, and now she and her husband are expecting a baby girl in December.

The 46-year-old says due to her age and injuries the pregnancy is considered "high risk."

Duckworth is the first female veteran of the Iraq war to be elected to congress. She will be seeking re-election in November.

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Obama Notifies Congress of Amirli Bombing, Airdrop Campaign


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama notified Congress of his authorization of the bombing and humanitarian airdrop campaign to help Shiite Turkmen surrounded by ISIS in the town of Amirli, Iraq, according to a letter released by the White House on Monday.

"These additional operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli," Obama wrote.

Up until this point, Obama has publicly justified military actions against ISIS as protecting U.S. personnel stationed in Erbil and to assist Yezidis trapped on Mt. Sinjar. In this new letter – which could be construed as a bit unusual because it concerns an expansion of the anti-ISIS campaign he's already announced – Obama defines the Amirli strikes as solely a humanitarian/assistance mission, not as protecting Americans.

The letter followed Obama's standard practice, to announce strikes (usually two days later) in a letter to Congress "consistent with" the War Powers Resolution – an act of Congress that Obama and other presidents have declined to acknowledge as binding.

The Pentagon announced on Saturday that it had extended its bombing campaign southward to help the Turkmen. Strikes and humanitarian drops began on Saturday and strikes continued Sunday.

U.S. bombs have been falling mostly around Mosul and Mosul Dam since Obama authorized the anti-ISIS campaign three weeks ago. This weekend, the Pentagon announced a handful of strikes that brought the total to 120 in Iraq since they began Aug. 8.

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Rep. Tom Cole: Be 'Smart About What We Do' on ISIS


Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While some Republicans have criticized President Obama for not acting quickly enough to combat the growing threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said Sunday on This Week that the U.S. has to be "smart about what we do" and not rush to act.

"I think frankly there's way too much emphasis on acting now and doing something immediately instead of being smart about what we do," Cole said on the This Week roundtable. "I think the elements of a strategy are already there. We know we're going to use air power. We know we're going to use special operators. We know we're going to have to build alliances on the ground. That's a very doable thing."

"They're tougher in Syria than they are in Iraq. We don't have any preexisting relationships there," Cole added. "But I think at the end of the day, look I think there's a consensus that we are going to do things, but again being a little bit thoughtful might be a good idea."

While Cole said Obama "made some bad mistakes" in pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011 and "not taking this threat seriously earlier," he said, "I still think the elements are there to be successful."

Cole, a member of the House Republican leadership, also said he believes "there can be bipartisan support" for action against ISIS if Obama comes to Congress.

"I think the important thing for the president here is to move with Congress — that is, to not do this on his own, to make everybody put their fingerprints on the decision and say yea or nay and go home and justify it," Cole said.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called the current foreign policy challenges a "potential 9/11 moment," but said more has to be learned about ISIS.

"They're bad, but what is their goal? Can they reach the American homeland?" he said.

Richardson acknowledged the regional threat posed by ISIS, but said the U.S. shouldn't act without allies and "go it alone" with military action against the group in Syria.

"You do have to have a coalition," he said.

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Richard Clarke Calls Obama 'Wrong' on World's Dangers


Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is "wrong" to downplay the dangers facing the United States, longtime counterterrorism official and ABC News contributor Richard Clarke said in response to the president's attempts to calm concern over the escalating threat from ISIS and turmoil in the Middle East.

Obama told an audience at a Democratic fundraiser in New York Friday that the "world has always been messy" but added, "I promise you things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago."

Clarke, appearing Sunday on This Week, said simply, "I think he's wrong."

"We're much more capable of defending ourselves now," said Clarke, who served under both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as the nation’s top counterterrorism official. "We have the Department of Homeland Security, we have a lot of resources going into counterterrorism, but the threat has also increased. And I think the threat has probably increased more than the defenses."

Speaking of the Islamic terrorist group ISIS, Clarke told ABC News' Martha Raddatz, "ISIS is highly capable. It has a lot of money. It has people from many, many countries. And our fear is it may have people in its ranks that we don't know about. We have the names of thousands of people, and we can stop them if they try to get into this country, but if we don’t know their names, and we don't know they're involved, they can get in."

Others experts on This Week echoed these concerns. Mubin Shaikh, a former Taliban jihadist who became an undercover counterterrorism operative, said that while terrorist recruiting efforts in the U.S. could eventually be brought under control, "the horse has bolted from the farm" in terms of  existing efforts.

Clarke emphasized the importance of law enforcement working with the local Muslim communities to combat those recruiting efforts, saying, "our best defense are our own American Muslims who have been very cooperative. They don't want anything to happen like this again in this country."

On the This Week roundtable, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called the ISIS threat to America a "potential 9/11 moment," but sounded a note of caution on dealing with the terror group, saying, "They're bad, but what is their goal? Can they reach the American homeland?"

Richardson acknowledged the regional threat posed by ISIS, but said the U.S. shouldn't act without allies and "go it alone" with military action against the group in Syria.

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Cruz Invites Obama to Border, Calls for Bombing ISIS 'Back to the Stone Age'


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Sen. Ted Cruz Saturday invited President Obama to accompany him to a golf course on the Texas-Mexico border, telling conservatives at an Americans for Prosperity summit in Dallas he thought that was "the only way there is a chance in heaven that he might come" to the region.

The Texas Republican and potential 2016 presidential contender also heavily criticized the president's foreign policies and suggested that the U.S. should bomb ISIS "back to the stone age."

"Tonight I am officially extending an invitation for Barack Obama to come join me at the border in Texas," Cruz said. "I figured the only way there is a chance in heaven that he might come: I am inviting him to a golf course."

Cruz told the audience that he is inviting Obama to join him at Lajitas Golf Resort in Big Bend, where, on "the 11th hole, the pin is on the other side of the Rio Grande, so you can only go for a hole in one."

Cruz devoted much of his speech to lambasting Democratic immigration reforms and warned that it would be "utterly lawless" for Obama to offer "amnesty" without the consent of Congress. Obama is expected to take executive action on immigration sometime this fall, but it has remained unclear when or how aggressively the president would seek to change U.S. policy.

"I'm expecting to get a call back from the president any day now to accept this invitation," Cruz said.

Cruz briefly mocked Obama's comment that he has no "strategy" yet to attack ISIS in Syria, a remark the president made in a live news conference on Thursday, on which fellow high-profile Republicans have seized.

"I'm sure everyone was shocked to hear this," Cruz said sarcastically, of the president's remark, contrasting it with Ronald Reagan's strategy in the Cold War and quoting the former president: "We win, they lose."

Cruz railed against ISIS, the jihadist group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria and which shocked many in the West by executing American journalist James Foley.

"America has always been reluctant to use military force, but we have never shied away from defending the United States of America," Cruz said. "ISIS says they want to go back and reject modernity, well I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the stone age."

Earlier this month, Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes against ISIS positions in northern Iraq. On Saturday, the U.S. military's Central Command announced five more drone and fighter-jet strikes had destroyed ISIS positions near the contested Mosul Dam. Those strikes brought the total up to 115 since Obama's authorization three weeks ago, CENTCOM said.

Cruz criticized Obama's foreign policy in general, alleging he's been outplayed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the geopolitical stage. Cruz also blasted the FAA's short-lived ban on flights to Tel Aviv, during the recent Gaza conflict.

"The Obama Doctrine works very, very well," Cruz said. "You simply let Putin eat your lunch every day."

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California Passes Plastic Bag Ban


iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- California lawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would make California the first to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags.

State lawmakers okayed the bill Friday after protections were added for plastic bag manufacturers.

The measure makes plastic bags illegal statewide at grocery stores and large pharmacies. It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge $0.10 each for paper and reusable plastic.

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Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu Facing Questions About Residency


US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is the latest Washington veteran being forced to fend off a challenge to her reelection that alleges she is no longer a resident of her home state, but lives in DC.

A similar challenge succeeded in knocking off former Indiana senator Richard Lugar in 2012, despite - or because of - his 35 years in Congress.

Landrieu's office and campaign are fighting back very cautiously.

"I have lived at my home on Prieur Street (New Orleans) most of my life and I live there now when not fulfilling my duties in Washington or serving constituents across the state," Landrieu said in a statement released to ABC News.

A Landrieu campaign official also noted that both Landrieu and her husband file taxes in Louisiana.

Her campaign, however, will not elaborate on the controversy.

It is an issue that is increasingly being employed this year against members of Congress who are repeatedly reelected, and spend most of their time in Washington.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, acknowledged to The New York Times that he does not have a home of his own in Kansas, and his primary opponent, Dr. Milton Wolf, has attacked him over it. Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y., has feuded with his Republican opponent, John Katko, over a mention of Maffei’s wife’s work and the couple’s home in the D.C. area.

Landrieu, a Democrat, is already in a race that is considered one of the most closely contested this year and could determine control of the Senate.

Landrieu claims her parents' home in New Orleans as her principle address, and listed it on her statement of candidacy filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this year. But the Democrat also lists her multi-million dollar Washington, DC home as her address on other documents, including her filing with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office when she qualified to be on the ballot last week.

Rob Maness, a tea party candidate in the race, filed a letter with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office last week calling for an investigation into Landrieu’s residency. He followed up on Friday by submitting written complaints to district attorneys in four parishes, calling on them to object to the Landrieu's qualifications as a candidate. Landrieu's leading Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, has piled on to paint Landrieu as a creature of Washington.

Landrieu maintains that she lives at her parents' home in New Orleans, of which she is a partial owner under a family trust and where she is registered to vote.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State's listed qualifications, a candidate for U.S. Senate must "be an inhabitant of Louisiana when elected."

The Constitution governs residency requirements, broadly. As Louisiana's law is worded, it requires senators to "be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."

The definition of what it is to be "an inhabitant" is a broad one, said Dr. Pearson Cross, the head of the political science department at the University of Louisiana. From a legal standpoint, he said it would be difficult to prove that Landrieu is not an inhabitant.

"Courts have been reluctant to intervene in that and have given a lot of latitude in defining residency," Cross said. "To say that Mary Landrieu is not a resident is a bit disingenuous given that Senate and Congress have become a full-time occupation and that their work is done in Washington."

Cross said the issue of Landrieu's residency is a ploy likely to influence voters who are already inclined to vote against Landrieu.

"It will have resonance with some voters who are pre-inclined to believe," Cross said. "It will probably have little effect on voters who aren’t inclined to believe it. In terms of Louisiana politics, it’s clear that many people, particularly those with national focus, are running against Washington. To the extent that you can tar someone with the Washington brush, it’s an effective campaign tactic."

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Obama Pushes for Increased Minimum Wage in Weekly Address


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- With Labor Day just around the corner, President Obama outlined the arguments behind his continued push for an increased minimum wage in his weekly address.

Obama reiterated once again that Congress should act to help hardworking Americans around the country. Obama raised the minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10 per hour using an executive order earlier this year, and in his address he praised the 13 states and the District of Columbia who have followed his lead.

"America deserves a raise," Obama said, because the country built "the greatest middle class the world has ever known" by ensuring that all hardworking Americans can get ahead.

Read the full transcript of the president's address:

Hi, everybody.  Whether you’re firing up the grill, fired up for some college football, or filling up the car for one last summer roadtrip – Happy Labor Day weekend.

We set aside Labor Day to honor the working men and women of America.  And this Labor Day, we’ve got more to celebrate.  Over the past 53 months, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs.  Last month, for the first time since 1997, we created more than 200,000 jobs for six straight months.  And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders worldwide have declared, two years running, that the number one place to invest isn’t China – it’s America.

So there are reasons to be optimistic about where we’re headed.  And the decisions we make now will determine whether or not we accelerate this progress – whether economic gains flow to a few at the top, or whether a growing economy fuels rising incomes and a thriving middle class.

Think about it this Labor Day.  The things we often take for granted – Social Security and Medicare, workplace safety laws and the right to organize for better pay and benefits, even weekends – we didn’t always have these things.  Workers and the unions who get their back had to fight for them.  And those fights built a stronger middle class.

To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting.  We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody.  The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility.  The right to a fair living wage. 

Let me focus on that last one for a minute.  In America, no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.  A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.  And raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families.  It would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses.  And that grows the economy for everyone.

The bottom line is, America deserves a raise.  But until we’ve got a Congress that cares about raising working folks’ wages, it’s up to the rest of us to make it happen.  And in the year and a half since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, Americans of all walks of life are doing just that.

Thirteen states and D.C. have done their part by raising their minimum wages.  Four more states have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this November.  And the states where the minimum wage has gone up this year have experienced higher job growth than the states that haven’t. 

Business leaders at companies like The Gap are doing their part.  They’re raising base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they know it’s good for business.
Mayors across the country are doing their part.  Mayor Emanuel in Chicago and Mayor Garcetti in L.A. are working to lift their cities’ wages over time to at least thirteen dollars an hour.

I’ve tried to do my part by requiring companies that get contracts with the federal government to pay their workers a fair wage of ten dollars and ten cents an hour. 

And earlier this month, the president of Kentucky State University set a great example by giving himself a $90,000 pay cut, so that he could give raises to his lowest-paid employees.  His sacrifice will give more of his workers and their families a little extra money to help make ends meet. 

That’s how America built the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  Not by making sure a fortunate few at the top are doing well, but by making sure that everyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead.  That’s the bedrock this country is built on.  Hard work.  Responsibility.  Sacrifice.  And looking out for one another as one united American family.

Let’s keep that in mind this Labor Day, and every day.  Have a great weekend, everybody.

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GOP Weekly Address: Rep. Larry Bucshon on Bringing Jobs Back to the US


US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- In the Republican weekly address, Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana discussed what American political leaders must do to bring jobs back to the United States.

With Labor Day on Monday, Bucshon spoke of how "Americas workers make our country go." He noted, however, that many of those workers are "hurting."

Bucshon mentioned 40 "good jobs bills awaiting action," blame for which he pointed at the Democrat-held Senate.

Bucshon argues for lowering energy costs, fixing the tax code and restoring opportunities for all Americans.

Read the full transcript of the GOP address:

Hello, I’m Dr. Larry Bucshon, proudly serving Indiana’s Eighth Congressional District.

I’m honored to be speaking with you from the Heartland of America on this weekend when we tip our hat to the working man and woman.

America’s workers make our country go, so our goal should be to make our economy work for them.

But traveling around Indiana this week, going from job fairs to listening sessions to small businesses, it was easy to see how our workers are still hurting.

We’re seeing some jobs come back, but too many of our fellow Americans are stuck in part-time work or have stopped looking altogether.  And between wages staying flat – and costs on everything from food to health care going up – families are being squeezed at every turn.

Here in Indiana, and in many states throughout the union, we rely on coal to power our homes and provide good-paying middle class jobs – like the one my family relied on when I was a kid.

My dad spent 35 years as a UMWA coal miner in my hometown of Kincaid, Illinois. He was proud of the work he did everyday and rightly so.  The coal mine helped put food on our table and helped me pursue an education and realize the American Dream.

Unfortunately, the current administration is waging a war on this reliable, affordable source of energy and the countless jobs it supports.  This is one example of many where the policies coming from Washington, D.C. just don’t make sense.

As a physician, I took an oath to “do no harm.”  While this Administration’s policies continue to harm our nation’s economy and families struggling to make ends meet, Republicans are offering solutions America’s workers can count on. Our solutions will address the sluggish job market and grow our economy over the long run.

First, we need to get people back into steady, good-paying jobs.  One thing we’ve already done is fix our job training system to make it easier for workers to find the skills they need to get ahead – this was a bipartisan, common-sense compromise with our colleagues in the Senate.  We’ve also offered proposals to jumpstart small business investment and rein in the red tape factory that makes it harder for employers to hire and expand.

All told, we have more than 40 good jobs bills awaiting action in the Democratic-run United States Senate. 

Lowering costs is another area that demands action.  Several of the bipartisan jobs bills we’re asking Senate Democrats to act on would help make energy less expensive for families and small businesses, like the manufacturers that help support the Hoosier economy.  And we need to implement real health care reform that lets patients choose the plans they want at a price they can afford.

And third, we need to restore real opportunities for all Americans.  That’s why we’ve sent the Senate solutions to make education more affordable and accessible for middle-class families.  And we’re ready to fix our tax code to make it simpler and fairer for everyone.

These three things – getting people back to work, lowering costs at home, and restoring opportunity – will continue to be our focus in the weeks ahead.

We call them ‘American Solutions’ because they put the American people first.  Which is exactly what we’re asking of President Obama and Senate Democrats as we celebrate our nation’s workforce: put aside politics, and do what Americans do every day, and that’s get to work.

Thanks for listening. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

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Federal Judge Rejects Part of Restrictive Texas Abortion Law


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A federal judge rejected part of the state's abortion law that would have required abortion clinics to meet hospital-level operating room standards by Sept. 1 or close.

The law would have left just seven facilities in Texas as legal abortion sites. For now, at least 19 such facilities will remain open. An appeal from the state is expected.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis called the decision "a victory for women's health care." Davis notably filibustered the abortion bill for 11 hours before it passed during a special session. "These decisions," Davis said, "should only be made between a woman, her doctor and her God -- not Austin politicians like Attorney General Greg Abbott, who would make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest."

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