Keith Rush - Biography
Keith began his broadcasting career on Febuary 16, 1952 at the age of 20 left New Orleans for full time position, KLOU in Lake Charles, Louisiana...
Keith is considered by many as the "Father of Talk Radio" in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1st "Honorary" member of LSU statewide Alumni Association in history of LSU.
Received many awards, but most proud of Freedom's Foundation Award 1972 for fight against "Filth" in radio and television. Representatives came to New Orleans Louisiana to make the presentation.
During period 1953 - 1956 (still broadcasting) booked acts on the Louisiana Hayride, such as George Jones, Johnny Cash, The Browns and brought Elvis Presley to New Orleans (1954) for 1st apperance ever. (Lost Money)
1957 - 1959 United States Army 4th Infantry Division Fort Lewis Washington, 2 years active duty.

 

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NEWS   THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2015   NEWS

Homeland Security Official Used Improper Influence In Visa Cases Involving Prominent Democrats
The No. 2 official at the Homeland Security Department improperly intervened on behalf of foreign investors seeking U.S. visas in three cases involving prominent Democrats, including a company run by the youngest brother of likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the agency's inspector general said Tuesday.
Investigators said Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas helped efforts to secure the visas in ways that created the appearance of favoritism and special access and caused resentment among career government employees, managers and lawyers. Fox News
VOA VIEW: The shady Obama clan.

For Obama, A New Twist In Longest U.S. War
America's longest war just got a little longer for thousands of U.S. troops. President Barack Obama's decision Tuesday to keep 9,800 soldiers in Afghanistan through this year -- double what was previously planned -- represents an American bet that a new president, Ashraf Ghani, might finally be the reliable partner in Kabul who can solidify gains, such as they are, of the 14-year U.S. mission. But though Obama has long pined for a dependable counterpart in Afghanistan and hoped for greater stability there, Ghani's arrival comes with a significant political price. In order to bolster Ghani, who emerged as the winner after a U.S.-brokered settlement to a disputed Afghan election last year, Obama has had little choice but to accept his appeals for more U.S. troops to stay longer in Afghanistan. CNN

Expert Says Iran Deal Must Guarantee Snap Inspections Of Nuclear Sites
A leading non-proliferation expert told lawmakers Tuesday that for a long-term nuclear deal with Iran to be adequately verified it must include binding guarantees that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be able to carry out snap inspections of facilities for about 20 years. “A critical question is whether the agreement [now being negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 group] establishes a verification regime adequate to promptly catch Iranian cheating,” Institute for Science and International Security President David Albright told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Iran will not keep any deal.

FBI Needs Better Intelligence, Information Sharing
The FBI needs to strengthen its intelligence programs and information sharing to counter the diverse and fast-moving national threats that have evolved since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a new U.S. report said on Wednesday. The 9/11 Review Commission report said the bureau's progress in developing key intelligence programs, analysis and human intelligence collection lags behind its law enforcement capabilities. "This imbalance needs urgently to be addressed to meet growing and increasingly complex national security threats, including from adaptive and increasingly tech savvy terrorists, more brazen computer hackers and more technically capable global cyber syndicates," the report said. Reuters

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New Ford Car Automatically Obeys Speed Limits
Ford says it has the answer for speed demons who can't keep their gas pedals off the metal: A car that reads speed limit signs and automatically slows down.
Ford (F) says that the newest edition of its S-Max car has "a new technology that scans traffic signs and adjusts the throttle to help drivers stay within legal speed limits and avoid fines." The new system, called the intelligent speed limiter, was unveiled by Ford of Europe in Germany on Tuesday. But Ford's European division said the technology will be available worldwide. The S-Max can read signs with its traffic sign recognition system and adjusts for speed accordingly. And it doesn't need to pull down the brake to slow down the car. CNN

Russia Sides With Cuba In Slamming US Actions Against Venezuela
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday slammed the recent imposition of U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of rights abuses, and warned against what he called “attempts to organize a state coup.” Lavrov made the comments during a visit to Cuba, whose Castro regime is Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s closest ally. His implied accusation that the U.S. is trying to topple Maduro’s socialist government echoes those of Maduro himself, Cuban President Raul Castro, as well as their allies in the left wing Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) bloc. CNS News

Final Make-Or-Break Moment For Iran Nuclear Talks
The Iran nuclear talks resumed Thursday morning, the final round in a make-or-break moment with negotiators poised to either strike a historic deal or head home empty-handed. U.S. negotiators, led by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, sat down with the Iranian team headed by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz also attended, as did his counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. At the head of the table was Helga Schmid, the deputy secretary general of the European Union. In the first meeting after a one-week break over the start of the Persian new year, the negotiators appeared eager to get going. Kerry tapped his pencil on the table and neither the Americans nor the Iranians answered questions about the crisis in Yemen before reporters were ushered out so the talks could begin. Washington Post

How Boehner Got A Much-Needed Win On The Budget
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) racked up a much-needed political victory Wednesday when the House passed a budget proposal after a very rocky first three months of the new Congress in which unruly conservative members seriously complicated the Ohioan's efforts to govern. For Boehner, the passage of the measure with majority Republican support was a welcome departure from weeks of discord in the GOP ranks that started with a long-shot attempt to displace him as speaker and escalated in a protracted fight over immigration and homeland security funding that left conservatives disgruntled and gave Democrats exactly what they demanded. Washington Post
VOA VIEW: Boehner is a weak leader.

Rights Group: Boko Haram Killed 1,000 Civilians This Year
A leading human rights group says Nigeria-based Boko Haram has killed more than 1,000 civilians this year and forced hundreds of abducted girls and women to convert to Islam and marry fighters. Human Rights Watch says people are desperate despite recent successes of a multinational offensive that has seized back dozens of towns from the Islamic extremists. The New York-based group also charges Nigerian security forces torched a village and killed at least five civilians. A report issued Thursday, based on accounts from witnesses and media, says Nigeria's government is not doing enough to protect its civilians. Houston Chronicle

Ford Recalls Over 220,000 Vehicles In North America For Three Issues
Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it is recalling more than 220,000 vehicles in North America for potential issues with door handles, vacuum pump relays and sensors. The No. 2 U.S. automaker said it is recalling 212,911 Ford Explorer SUVs and Ford Police Interceptor utility vehicles from model years 2011 to 2013 because a spring that controls the interior door handle may become loose and cause the door to become unlatched in a side-impact crash, increasing the risk of injury. Ford said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. Reuters

Arizona Bill To Keep Cops' Names Secret After Shootings Heads To Governor
An Arizona bill that would prevent the release of the names of police officers involved in shootings for 60 days after the incident is headed to the governor's desk.
The state Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 1445 by a 20-to-8 vote. The House of Representatives last week lowered the waiting time to 60 days from 90 days, which meant the Senate had to approve the change. The bill would prevent law enforcement agencies from releasing the names of officers "involved in a use of deadly physical force incident that results in death or serious physical injury" for 60 days in nearly all cases. An officer's disciplinary history could be released, but any identifying information would be redacted. Proponents say the bill would protect officers from threats and harassment in the wake of a fatal shooting. Critics say the bill is an attack on government transparency and that the public deserves to know the names of officers involved in the use of deadly force. MSNBC

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Jesse Jackson Jr. Leaves Federal Prison For Halfway House
The Rev. Jesse Jackson says his son, former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., has been released from an Alabama prison after serving a year and a half for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds. Rev. Jackson confirmed around 5:30 a.m. Thursday that his son has been released from the Montgomery, Alabama, facility, calling it a "joyous reunion." He says his son is doing "very well." The 50-year-old Jackson will serve the remainder of his sentence at a Washington, D.C., halfway house. Jackson began his 2 1/2-year sentence in 2013. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons lists his release date as Sept. 20, 2015. The Illinois Democrat pleaded guilty to misspending the money on items including furs and vacations. Jackson's wife must serve a related, year-long term after her husband completes his sentence. Atlanta Journal

Iran Calls Saudi Airstrikes In Yemen ‘Dangerous Step’
Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes Thursday targeting military installations in Yemen held by Shiite rebels who were taking over a key port city in the country’s south and had driven the embattled president to flee by sea, security officials said. Some of the strikes hit positions in the country’s capital, Sanaa. The airstrikes, which had the support of nine other countries, drew a strong reaction from Iran which called the operation an “invasion” and a “dangerous step” that will worsen the crisis in the country. The back-and-forth between the regional heavyweights was threatening to turn impoverished Yemen into a proxy battle between the Middle East’s Sunni powers and Shiite-led Iran. Charlotte Observer

Head Of World's Largest Uranium Producer Dies, 44
Kazakhstan's government-run news agency has reported that the head of the state uranium producer, the world's largest, has died of a heart attack while on a visit to China. Kazinform news agency said Kazatomprom chairman Nurlan Kapparov, 44, collapsed early Thursday afternoon while having lunch at a restaurant in Beijing.
Kapparov had been at the helm of Kazatomprom, the world's biggest uranium producer by output, since August. The company said in a statement this month that it produced 22,800 tons of uranium in 2014, equivalent to 40 percent of global output. Kazakhstan last year signed a deal with China to cooperate on the construction of a nuclear fuel factory in the northern Kazakh city of Ust-Kamenogorsk to supply power plants in China. San Diego Union

White House Chief Florist Resigns – Wilted Under Pressure From First Lady?
The sudden departure of the longtime White House florist has the scent of scandal. The official story is that Chief Florist Laura Dowling simply left her position earlier this year. But a source familiar with the situation confirmed to Fox News that she "resigned." Reportedly, she was even escorted from the building -- and this was preceded by a clash over aesthetics with first lady Michelle Obama. The Washington Post first reported on the fresh-cut drama earlier this week, with a source telling the newspaper Dowling was escorted out on Feb. 13 after nearly six years on the job. Fox News
VOA VIEW: The Obama's are a miserable pair.

Power Grid Security Fears Surge Since 2003 Blackout
Experts say a massive cascading power outage affecting large swaths of the nation is unlikely. But it could happen, and it could be devastating. A sense of the high stakes in the nation's effort to secure the grid from a mass outage became clear for many in August 2003, when a sudden blackout wiped out power across seven Northeastern states and the Canadian province of Ontario. Triggered by an unpruned tree branch in Ohio — coupled with a software glitch and human error — the chain-reaction outage snarled transportation systems, shut down stock exchanges and was blamed for contributing directly to 10 deaths as it spread through the Northeast's population centers. MSNBC

Jeb Bush Hits Obama Admin. On Israel: ‘This Is No Time For Schoolyard Antics’
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is criticizing the Obama administration’s recent handling of the Islamic State terrorist group, Iran and Israel, saying in a new opinion piece that rather than projecting “American determination and leadership,” the president “has either withdrawn from the stage or chosen to trust our enemies.” “The rest of the world must wonder what it takes to enrage the White House,” Mr. Bush wrote for National Review. “Apparently, all you have to do is re-elect a leader whom the president doesn’t like.” Mr. Bush went on to cite the White House’s “half-hearted congratulations” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his party’s recent victory in the Israeli elections and the White House’s saying it would reassess its approach to Israel. Mr. Netanyahu said before the election that a Palestinian state would not happen on his watch, but said afterward on MSNBC he wants to see a two-state solution. Washington Times

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Pence To Declare Health Emergency In HIV Epidemic
Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday morning is expected to reveal details of an emergency plan to address an HIV epidemic in southeastern Indiana linked to intravenous drug use. But it's not clear whether he will give the green light for clean needle exchange programs. Just as Pence wrapped up a news conference Wednesday announcing his plans to declare a public health emergency in Scott County, a House panel embarked on a three-hour hearing on whether to pass an emergency amendment opening the door to needle exchange programs, which many medical experts believe are critical to curbing this outbreak and any others. Since the middle of December, when the first case was identified, 72 people in five counties in the area — most of them from Scott County — have tested positive for HIV. HIV causes AIDS, a disease that weakens the immune system, gradually destroying the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. Indy Star

GOP To White House: Stop Clinton From Ignoring Conflicts Of Interest
The leader of the Republican Party on Wednesday demanded that the White House address violations to a “flawed agreement” that was supposed to prevent conflicts of interest involving foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state. In a letter obtained by McClatchy, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the document that was designed to allay concerns that donors to the Clinton Foundation could influence U.S. foreign policy “failed to alleviate conflicts of interest, and at times was blatantly ignored.” The letter was sent to White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s closest aides who served as co-chair of the Obama transition team and signed the agreement with the Clinton Foundation in December 2008. Miami Herald

US Denies Young Mexican Visa For Transplant Treatment In US
Family and friends raised thousands of dollars to send Jose Chua Lopez to the prestigious Mayo Clinic for an urgently needed heart and liver transplant. But the 20-year-old Mexican born with a heart defect has twice been turned down for a U.S. visa, and relatives and his doctor say his life is in danger. "They denied me the visa and my world has fallen down," Chua told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "This needs to be fixed quickly." His mother, Myra Lopez Martinez, said Chua has an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in 10 days, but his visa application was rejected a second time by the U.S. State Department on Tuesday. SF Gate

Obama Sent Operatives To Israel To Defeat Netanyahu
Some of President Obama's top political operatives were sent to Israel leading up to last week's elections in an attempt to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Tuesday. "He can't say he has a business-like relationship or that it isn't personal when his entire political machine, virtually, some of the top people in his political operation, were in Israel on the ground trying to defeat Netanyahu, which is unprecedented," Rubio said of Obama on Tuesday in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. "He didn’t send anyone in any other country to try to influence the outcome of those elections," Rubio, a potential 2016 contender, added. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Obama is anti America.

Congress May Further Probe Special Immigration Program For Wealthy
Republicans in Congress voiced strong objections Tuesday in response to a scathing Homeland Security investigation that found a senior official appeared to give special treatment to politically-connected applicants when he ran a little-known federal program that offers visas to those who invest $500,000 in a job-creating business. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the committee chairman, said he viewed the findings of the Homeland Security Inspector General “extremely concerning” and said he will hold hearings Thursday to determine if further investigation is needed.  ABC

White House Continues To Back Yemen As Model For Successful Counterterrorism
The White House continues to hail Yemen -- a country that is descending into chaos -- as a model for fighting extremism, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today. “The White House does continue to believe that a successful counter-terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country,” Earnest told reporters at the White House. “That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in places like Yemen.” ABC

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In Modern-Day Debtors' Prisons, Courts Team With Private Sector
"Since 2009, we have been hearing increasing reports that people are being jailed for a failure to pay fines and fees," Nusrat Choudhury, staff attorney in the ACLU Racial Justice Program, told CBS MoneyWatch. "We've observed that for-profit corrections companies are proliferating. They offer a win-win to local governments because they offer to generate revenue from people who are too poor to pay on probation day." Thirteen states rely on for-profit probation companies such as JCS, Choudhury said. It's difficult to get a sense if the municipalities that hire for-profit probation companies are poorer or in deeper financial straits because they are scattered across the country, she added. What's clear, however, is that Thompson's case isn't an anomaly. CBS

Families Navigate Busy Schedule With Ride-Share Apps
For generations, the milestone 16th birthday has meant a driver's license and newfound freedom. But with the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, some kids are gaining independence even younger. A new trend, favored by many working parents and their busy kids, helps keeps families moving, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford. Two days a week, 16-year-old Maya Harr walks out of her Virginia high school and gets into a car provided by Uber. She takes the ride-sharing service 10 miles to her ballet class in Washington. Maya's parents, Karla and Brian, are not in the car with her, but they are on board with the ride. "We tried to be the ones driving her, and it's really hard to balance everything and be there every time," her father, Brian, said. CBS

U.S. Stocks Drop, Nasdaq Composite Slides Amid Tech Declines
U.S. stocks fell with the Nasdaq Composite Index dropping the most in two weeks as investors sold the quarter’s biggest winners, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fluctuated amid merger news. Nvidia Corp. and Micron Technology Inc. lost more than 1.7 percent. Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and Microsoft Corp. dropped at least 1.1 percent. Kraft Foods Group Inc. soared 35 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. teamed with 3G Capital to acquire the food company and merge it with ketchup maker H.J. Heinz. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.6 percent at 10:52 a.m. in New York, its third straight slide and longest since January after climbing to within 20 points of its dot-com-era record. The S& P 500 Index slipped 0.1 percent to 2,088.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 45.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,965.50. Bloomberg

IS Hacked 600 Russian Websites
Islamic State hackers attacked 600 Russian Internet sites in 2014, a security firm reported Wednesday, an example of a growing IS threat to Russia. "Some banks, companies in the construction sphere, plants, state enterprises and even schools and scientific centers have already become the victims of successful attacks," a report by the New York-based Global Cyber Security Co., also known as Group-IB, said. It added the "Cyber Caliphate," a hacker group connected to IS compromises of accounts of the U.S. Central Command, Twitter and YouTube in early 2015, is responsible. UPI

Feds Irked By Industry Stance On Oil-Train Safety
The U.S. Department of Transportation said it was frustrated that an energy industry group was on the sidelines of the debate over oil transportation by rail. Suzanne Emmerling, a spokesperson for the department, said in a statement the administration was frustrated with statements made by the American Petroleum Institute on efforts to improve rail safety. "It's disappointing that API continues to look for reasons not to engage in improving safety," she said in a statement Tuesday. "While the rail industry has taken many steps to improve safety, we will always demand more and expect more from them. We continue to hope the energy industry will join in those efforts." UPI

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Oil in Storage Rises More Than Expected Again
America's oil in storage just hit another record after rising for the 11th consecutive week. Stockpiles rose 8.2 million barrels, or 1.8 percent, to 466.7 million barrels last week, the EIA reported today. Analysts had expected an increase of 4.75 million barrels. The amount of oil the U.S. is cranking out also edged up slightly, for the seventh consecutive week, to a rate of 9.42 million barrels a day. Investors have been closely watching the oil gather in storage tanks, which has been rising steadily since the oil-price crash started last year. Stockpiles are more than 25 percent above their five-year average. Inventories aren't likely to max out, but even the possibility of coming close is adding pressure to an oversupplied oil market. Bloomberg

California Attorney General Moves To End Anti-Gay Initiative
California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a state court on Wednesday for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in gay sex be killed. Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” The distribution of gay “propaganda” would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state. “This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” Harris said. Seattle Times

California Senate Moves $1 Billion Water Plan Amid Drought
The state Senate on Wednesday approved a $1 billion proposal to speed up spending on water projects and offer about $75 million in immediate aid to residents and wildlife in drought-stricken California. The legislation accelerates water infrastructure spending, some of which can boost local water supplies in future years. It includes $267 million to give out grants for water-recycling projects and expand drinking water in small and poor cities. "It's step one in responding to this really extraordinary drought," said Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. The funding plan was fast-tracked after it was announced last week by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders of both parties. But a companion measure to authorize fines for illegal diversions of water drew criticism from Republicans on Wednesday for expanding government powers without traditional legislative scrutiny. Tampa Tribune

Senator Resigns As Committee Chair After Obama-IS Group Post
A Maine state senator who was criticized for a Facebook post that linked President Barack Obama to the Islamic State group is stepping down from his post as chairman of a legislative committee. A Senate Republican spokeswoman says Sen. Michael Willette offered Wednesday to resign his chairmanship on the State and Local Government Committee. The Maine Democratic Party called for Willette's resignation from the Legislature after several offensive Facebook posts were made public this month, including one suggesting that Obama's family members are part of the extremist terror group. Senate President Michael Thibodeau says he accepts Willette's decision, applauding him for "putting the interests of the Legislature before his own." Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Obama and family are Islamic extremists.

Racial Disparities In Arrests Persist With Legal Pot
Legalizing marijuana reduces drug arrests but doesn't solve one of the central goals of drug-policy reformers — ending racial disparities in marijuana enforcement.
That's according to a new review of Colorado's criminal justice system before and after pot was made legal. A report released Wednesday by the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance examined drug-related arrests in all 64 Colorado counties for two years before and two years after legalization in 2012. Not surprisingly, the data showed that marijuana-related arrests all but vanished after voters made the drug legal in small amounts for adults over 21. Las Vegas Sun

Posthumous Video Supports Calif. Right-To-Die
In a video recorded 19 days before Brittany Maynard took life-ending drugs, she tells California lawmakers that no one should have to leave home to legally kill him- or herself under the care of a doctor. "Unfortunately, California law prevented me from getting the end-of-life option I deserved," she said in the recording released Wednesday, hours ahead of the first state Senate committee hearing on the issue. The 29-year-old San Francisco Bay area woman had terminal brain cancer and moved with her family to Oregon before killing herself last year. Her death drew widespread attention and recharged legislative efforts in California and elsewhere to make it legal for terminally ill patients to kill themselves with drugs. "No one should have to leave their home and community for peace of mind, to escape suffering, and to plan for a gentle death," Maynard said in the video. Philadelphia Inquirer

Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out Of Cockpit Before Fatal Crash
One of the pilots on the ill-fated Germanwings flight was locked out of the cockpit and tried to “smash the door down” before the jet’s inexplicable descent into the French Alps, it was revealed on Wednesday. The pilot exited the cockpit during the flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf and could not get back inside despite desperately pounding on the door, according to The New York Times. “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” an investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.” The information came from crucial cockpit audio recordings from the doomed jetliner on which all 150 people aboard perished. NY Post

Obama Backs Consumer Agency As It Proposes Payday Rules
President Obama will give a staunch defense of the federal government's consumer protection watchdog in a speech Thursday, defending it against Republican budget cuts the same day the agency is set to propose tough new payday lending rules. Obama's speech will come three hours after the bureau convenes a hearing on payday loans in Richmond, Va. At the hearing, CFPB Director Richard Cordray will outline a proposal to crack down on payday lending practices that he says often result in "debt traps." Obama will speak in Birmingham, Ala., Thursday afternoon, the site of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's first public hearings on payday lending in 2012. The White House said Obama would discuss ways to "protect families from the types of abuses that helped lead to the greatest economic crisis of our lifetimes." USA Today

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Officials Say State Dept. Report On Spending Beyond Green Line Not Linked To US-Israel Tensions
Government officials on Wednesday downplayed reports that the State Department was preparing a document to submit to Congress that would subtract money Israel spent on construction beyond the Green Line from US loan guarantees. The officials said that this was standard procedure not linked – as some have suggested – to the upsurge in tensions between the Obama administration and Jerusalem since the election last week of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has some $3.8 billion in loan guarantees left for it to use until the end of 2015. Jerusalem Post

US Democrats Say Israel's Efforts On Iran Are Backfiring
Following months of intensified calls by Israel to block any deals with Iran, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial speech to Congress, members of the US senate say that their opinions on a nuclear deal with Iran have not budged. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, speaking to Politico, said that Netanyahu did not believe in the potential for a good deal, suggesting he should rather be open to fixing certain issues. “You can agree on some of the specifics that ‘yeah, this is a matter of concern,’ without necessarily agreeing that there’s no way to address it," Kaine said. "He doesn’t see any way to address it, but I’m not sure that’s the case.” Jerusalem Post

Taliban-Swap US Soldier Bowe Bergdahl Charged With Desertion
A hearing will determine whether he will have court-martial proceedings. He could then be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty. Sgt Bergdahl was freed in May after five years of captivity by the Taliban. His release - the product of a controversial prisoner swap - sparked a heated political row. The US Army made the announcement at US Army Forces Command in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Wednesday Colonel Daniel King said the US Army Forces Command had reviewed the Army's investigation into Sgt Bergdahl's disappearance before bringing the charges. BBC

Kraft Shares Soar On Heinz Merger
US food giant Heinz is to merge with Kraft Foods Group, creating what the companies say will be the third-largest food and beverage company in the US. Shares in Kraft closed up more than 35% on the news at $83.17 in New York. The deal was engineered by Heinz's owners, the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, and billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Heinz shareholders will own 51% of the combined company with Kraft shareholders owning a 49% stake.
3G and Berkshire Hathaway bought Heinz two years ago for $23bn and took the company private in 2013. Mr Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway chief executive, said: "I am delighted to play a part in bringing these two winning companies and their iconic brands together. BBC

House Republicans Aim To Bridge Party Divide Threatening To Derail Budget Vote
After a rocky start to the new Congress, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives will face their next big test on Wednesday as the chamber prepares to vote on two competing budgets. In a move to appease both fiscal conservatives and defense hawks in the party, GOP leaders have decided to invoke a parliamentary tactic that would ensure a budget resolution is adopted while still allowing members to vote for the plan of their choice. Whichever proposal gets the most votes will be considered the House GOP’s budget for the fiscal year 2016. One budget was approved by the House budget committee last week and is favored by the fiscal conservatives for adhering to the spending caps triggered in 2013 by federal budget cuts known as “sequestration”. Defense hawks balked at that proposal and are poised to vote for a separate budget, which includes an additional $20bn in defense spending. Guardian

US Warplanes Begin Air Strikes On Isis In Iraqi City Of Tikrit
US military warplanes have begun targeting Islamic State positions in the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday, a reversal that has placed American airpower dramatically close to a supporting role for Iranian-backed militias on the ground. “I can confirm that the government of Iraq has requested coalition support for operations in Tikrit. Operations are ongoing,” a Pentagon spokesman, army colonel Steve Warren, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon. The senior general conducting the US’s latest war in Iraq, Lieutenant General James Terry, sidestepped all questions of Iranian involvement or influence in the fight for Tikrit in a statement on Wednesday. Guardian

Amid Growing Crises, UN Officials Urge Protection For War’s Youngest Victims
The international community must act “collectively and expeditiously” to thwart the growing number of children affected by armed conflicts, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today, as the Security Council met to discuss the myriad horrors faced by children caught up in wars worldwide. “We agree that we cannot tolerate a world in which children are killed and maimed, where they are abducted, subject to sexual violence, forced to become soldiers, and where schools and hospitals are attacked,” Mr. Ban said. Nonetheless, he added, “increasingly, children are snatched from a normal life of school and family, abducted by armed groups and thrown into a life of violence and horror.” UN News

Ark Of Return: UN Erects Memorial To Victims Of Transatlantic Slave Trade
United Nations officials today welcomed the unveiling at the world body’s New York Headquarters of a permanent memorial to the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade which they acknowledged was one of the most horrific tragedies of modern history. “This memorial stands as a strong and permanent reminder – not only of this gross injustice but of the goals that the UN set for itself 70 years ago,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the unveiling. “This poignant and powerful memorial helps us to acknowledge the collective tragedy that befell millions of people. It encourages us to consider the historical legacy of slavery and, above all, it ensures that we never forget.” UN News

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