By Shushannah Walshe (@shushwalshe)
- CRISIS AT THE BORDER: ABC’S JIM AVILA got the first look on GMA this morning at new TV commercials designed to discourage the overwhelming tide of Central American children and their mothers crossing the Texas border illegally. The dramatic stories are made in telenovela fashion and will air both here in the United States and in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. One shows a young teen saying good bye to his mother and father heading to America only to be found a victim of the dangerous journey. The border patrol is also launching radio spots and billboards designed to counter the notion that the immigrants are getting a free pass in the United States because they are minors or traveling with minors: a tough sell since the overwhelming number of mothers and children coming across illegally are allowed within days to take buses to be with family already in the United States. WATCH HERE: http://abcn.ws/1j030cf
- ANALYSIS FROM ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Just because immigration reform legislation is effectively dead, that doesn’t mean it won’t live on as a political issue this fall. And not in the expected ways – which is to say, not necessarily cutting against Republicans whose inaction on the topic has led to the current stalemate. The crisis on the border has gotten more serious with the influx of minors from Central America, with no good answers for the federal government. Those pictures of Americans engaging in civil disobedience to block buses carrying border-crossers may reflect isolated incidents, but this is becoming a story of the summer – one that leaves ultimate responsibility with President Obama’s own executive branch. The president’s vows to act without Congress when necessary puts more pressure on him to offer solutions, and could wind up flipping the script around immigration politics. Not that there’s much trust to go around: 54 percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac University poll released this week said the Obama administration isn’t competent in running the federal government. (Yes, that’s the same poll that found Obama to be the worst president since World War II.)
- BREAKING JOBS REPORT: THE NEW YORK TIMES reports the economy accelerated in June, with employers adding 288,000 jobs, well above the rate of hiring recorded in the first five months of 2014 and another sign that growth is finally rebounding. The Labor Department also said that the unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008, when the economy’s fortunes turned sharply lower as Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial crisis ensued. Nearly six years later, some of the scars remain — like a historically low rate of Americans in the work force. But the job market has been showing signs of health, even as the overall economic growth rate has been anemic. Unemployment has come down from 7.9 percent at the start of 2013, and the average monthly gain in payrolls has been above 200,000 for the last five months in a row. http://nyti.ms/1j0adZW ABC’s ZUNAIRA ZAKI reports other bits of good news: the number of long-term unemployed dropped in this report and the May and April jobs numbers were revised to show that 29,000 more jobs were added in those months. Jobs were added in healthcare, professional and business services, retail, bars and restaurants. Some local government jobs were also added, primarily in the education sector. The labor force participation rate remained the same – not particularly good news. An increase in this rate would be another strong sign for the job market.
- WAR VS. WITHDRAWAL IN IRAQ, BY THE NUMBERS: According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, American voters say 61 to 32 percent the 2003 war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do, while voters 58 to 37 percent say President Obama’s decision to withdraw all US troops in 2011 was the right thing to do. Voters oppose 63 to 29 percent, with opposition from all party, gender and age groups, sending U.S. ground troops back into Iraq. Voters also say 56 to 39 percent that it is not in the U.S. national interest to get involved in Iraq, but a total of 72 percent of voters say it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that if Islamic militants take over Iraq, “they would launch a terrorist attack against the U.S. in the near future.”
- WHAT IT MEANS: More negative numbers for the president just one day after those terrible poll numbers: voters disapprove 55 to 37 percent of the way the president is handling the situation in Iraq and disapprove 52 to 42 percent of the way he is handling the situation in Afghanistan. By a 51 to 27 percent margin, American voters blame former President George W. Bush, rather than Obama, for the situation in Iraq, but only 35 percent of voters say Obama is better than Bush conducting foreign policy, while 39 percent say he is worse.
- AND ON GUN CONTROL: These numbers out today should boost gun control activists: voters support 92 to 7 percent, including 92 to 6 percent among gun owners, requiring background checks for all gun buyers. Support ranges from 86 to 11 percent among Republicans to 98 to 2 percent among Democrats. Voters polled also support 89 to 9 percent laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns. Gun owners support this idea 91 to 7 percent, but only 50 percent of voters support “stricter gun control laws,” with 47 percent opposed. FULL RESULTS: http://bit.ly/1pLfQhA
- DHS BOOSTING SECURITY AT OVERSEAS AIRPORTS SERVING US: The Department of Homeland Security is increasing security measures at airports overseas amid deepening concerns that terrorists in war-ravaged Syria are trying to develop a new generation of bombs that could be smuggled onto commercial planes, ABC’s MIKE LEVINE and PIERRE THOMAS report. In a statement, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department has been assessing “the global threat environment,” and he has directed the Transportation Security Administration “to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.” http://abcn.ws/TDImm9
- WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU: Sources told ABC News that DHS was planning to issue a series of urgent directives to airport authorities and airlines operating in Europe and elsewhere, requiring them to further scrutinize U.S.-bound passengers’ electronics and shoes, set up more explosives detection machines, increase random screenings of travelers, and take a series of secret actions the public would never see. http://abcn.ws/TDImm9
THE ROUNDTABLE, STORIES FROM THE STATES:
NEW JERSEY: If presidential candidacy in 2016 is on Gov. Chris Christie’s horizon, then his decision to veto a New Jersey gun control bill on Wednesday seems to affirm his political priorities with the GOP, notes ABC’S ALISA WIERSEMA. The vetoed bill would have banned ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds, and according to Christie, the bill is the “very embodiment of reform in name only.” The New Jersey governor also stated that “it simply defies common sense to believe that imposing a new and entirely arbitrary number of bullets that can be lawfully loaded into a firearm will somehow eradicate or even reduce, future instances of mass violence.” In place of the bill, Christie re-wrote the proposed legislation to include changes in the state’s mental health system, while eliminating the ammunition magazine capacity reduction. Christie’s decision to focus on mental health rather than directly enforcing stricter gun legislation parallels the latest Quinnipiac Poll regarding gun control. According to the poll’s results, Americans across the board are in favor of keeping weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill, but respond negatively to the prospect of “stricter gun control laws.” Given the general scope of Christie’s decision, the bill’s sponsor, Democrat Assembly Leader Louis Greenwald, speculated that the veto meant to appease this kind of national audience and would have otherwise been “a very uncomfortable topic to have with conservative voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.” Christie is set to fundraise in Iowa with Gov. Terry Branstad later this month.
COLORADO: The town is rifle, Colorado and the name of the restaurant is Shooters Grill. USA Today reporter Trevor Hughes says after the 27 year old owner started wearing her gun on her hip at work, the waitresses thought it would be “kind of fun” to follow her example, notes ABC’s TOM SHINE. Hughes says “all nine of the servers, who are safety certified, now pack heat…ranging from glock semi-automatics to Ruger Blackhawk .357 six-shooters.” USA Today shows a picture of the sign on the restaurant’s door which says, “Guns are welcome on premises. Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises. In such cases judicious marksmanship is appreciated.” The article adds those who stop in to eat, can get “a dinner and a four-hour gun safety class for $75.” Reporter Hughes points out on one wall of the restaurant is a copy of the declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the words, “proudly clinging to my guns and the bible.” http://usat.ly/1sUR3Jl
LOUISIANA: The endorsement war is on in Bayou State where things are heating up in the battle for endorsements in the Louisiana Senate race, where former Arkansas Gov. and Fox News host Mike Huckabee recently announced that he’s backing Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy in the race against three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. ABC’S JORDYN PHELPS reports Huckabee’s endorsement is a break away from tea party star and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed the tea party alternative to Cassidy, Col. Rob Maness two months ago. While Maness has secured some key tea party endorsements, including Tea Party Express and The Madison Project PAC, Cassidy has secured the important establishment backings of the Louisiana GOP and several local Republican Parish Executive Committees, including the St. Tammany RPEC, of which Maness is a part.
with ABC’s SCOTT WILSON
US TEEN ALLEGEDLY FALLS IN LOVE ONLINE, TRIES TO JOIN ISIS FIGHTERS IN SYRIA A suburban Denver teen fell in love with an ISIS fighter online, vowed to aid his cause in Syria, then was arrested at an airport, federal authorities said. Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, of Arvada, Colorado, was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization after FBI agents arrested her at Denver International Airport on April 8 as she tried to board a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, according to a U.S. criminal complaint and a supporting affidavit. She allegedly had connecting flights to Istanbul, Turkey, and then to Adana, Turkey, just a few hours’ drive from the Syrian border, ABC’S CLAYTON SANDELL and MICHAEL JAMES report. Conley, licensed as a certified nurse’s aide in Colorado, according to the affidavit, told investigators that she hoped to meet her online suitor in Syria and reside with him near the Turkish border as his wife and a camp nurse. Her parents told investigators her suitor was a 32-year-old Tunisian man, whose name is redacted in the documents. “When Conley told the suitor she wants to provide his camp with medical services and training, he told her that was good because they needed more nurses,” the affidavit read. http://abcn.ws/1qzLPAX
WHAT IT WAS LIKE 50 YEARS AGO: CIVIL RIGHTS ACT SIGNED Half a century ago this week, with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy at his side, President Lyndon B. Johnson forged a new path for America by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ABC’s ALEXANDRA DUKAKIS notes. The bill was crafted in response to a central question that pervaded 1960s social and political dialogue: Should race and gender-based discrimination be prohibited under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which forbids states from denying any citizen “life, liberty or property, without due process of law,” or “the equal protection of the laws.” The final 1964 civil rights bill declared it unlawful to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges or employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” http://abcn.ws/1iYrnXI
CHRIS MCDANIEL JUST WON’T GIVE UP AFTER GOP SENATE PRIMARY LOSS Chris McDaniel lost in the GOP Mississippi Senate primary to six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran by some 6,700 votes, if the official tally is to be believed, according to ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. But McDaniel refuses to concede. He and his supporters continue to mull legal challenges, based on the still unproven claim that Cochran’s win was powered by voters who shouldn’t have been allowed to cast runoff ballots last week. McDaniel called the election “shameful” in an email today, and said the only reason Cochran “stole” the election was “thanks to illegal voting from liberal Democrats.” “Last week’s runoff election was a sham, plain and simple,” McDaniel wrote, adding he has a “long fight ahead” and asking for money to help “mount the legal challenge that this case deserves.” Cochran’s top strategist, Stuart Stevens, calls McDaniel’s actions “an absurd public meltdown not based in reality,” noting he thinks this is all about retiring McDaniel’s debt from the primary. http://abcn.ws/1op0Zpd
MEET THE US MILITARY’S THREE FOUR-STAR WOMEN When Navy Secretary Ray Mabus pinned a fourth star on Adm. Michelle Howard’s uniform this week, he was not only making her the branch’s second-highest-ranking officer, he was also inducting her into a tiny and elite group of the military’s highest ranking women, according to ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY and CHRIS GOOD. So tiny and so elite that Howard joins just two other women currently serving in the U.S. armed forced who hold the four-star rank. Howard also become the highest-ranking African-American woman ever in any branch of the military. “If you don’t believe today was a first, when I called to order four-star shoulder boards for women, they didn’t exist,” Howard said at her promotion ceremony on Tuesday. “[A] special contract was let, and you folks are seeing the first set in the history of the United States Navy.” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus acknowledged the significance of Howard’s promotion and added the Navy simply picked the best officer for the job. http://abcn.ws/VefkLk
BIDEN, KERRY WORK THE PHONES TO UNITE IRAQI POLITICIANS As Iraq’s politicians remain deadlocked after many of them walked out of a parliamentary session Tuesday, Obama administration officials are making a big push to reach out to individual stakeholders in the region in order to convince them to keep working toward a new, representative government, according to ABC’s ALI WEINBERG. Vice President Joe Biden seems to have taken the lead in cajoling the leaders of the Sunni minority, while Secretary of State John Kerry is in charge of making sure the semi-autonomous Kurdish faction is still on board with a unified country. Biden spoke this morning with Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni who served as the speaker of the previous Iraqi parliament and reportedly wants to hold onto that position, despite the Sunnis and Kurds having nominated someone else. Meanwhile, Kerry met yesterday with the chief of staff to Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, and later in the day spoke on the phone to Barzani himself, who announced Tuesday that he would hold a referendum on Kurdish independence. http://abcn.ws/1mUWFP8
OBAMA CALLS TIM HOWARD, CLINT DEMPSEY AFTER CLASSY WORLD CUP FINISH President Obama Wednesday called Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey of the US Soccer Team to congratulate them on their great showing at the FIFA World Cup. “Man, I just wanted to call and say you guys did us proud!” President Obama said. “You guys did great…you guys captured the hearts and imaginations of the whole country.” He added that team members will have trouble keep back the mob of admirers when they return home. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: http://abcn.ws/1qzq3xd
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GETS ON GOALIE TIM HOWARD’S BANDWAGON Chuck Hagel is used to calling defense ministers from around the world but on Wednesday he rang up Tim Howard, the goalie for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, who’s gained the nickname US Secretary of Defense after Tuesday’s game, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ reports. Defense Secretary Hagel called Howard following the goalie’s record-setting performance in the 2-1 loss to Belgium that knocked the U.S. out of the World Cup. In a readout of the phone call, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel called Howard “to thank him for defending the United States of America at the World Cup.” Hagel also took the opportunity to congratulate Howard on the 16 saves in Tuesday’s match, the most in World Cup play since 1966, as well as “a great run” in the tournament. The Defense secretary invited Howard and the entire U.S. team to the Pentagon later this year. According to Kirby, Hagel told Howard “that with some training, he could someday become the real secretary of defense.” http://abcn.ws/1m9Ijd0
WHAT WE’RE READING
“IF ONLY THOMAS JEFFERSON COULD SETTLE THE ISSUE, A PERIOD IS QUESTIONED IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE” by the New York Times’ Jennifer Schuessler. “Every Fourth of July, some Americans sit down to read the Declaration of Independence, reacquainting themselves with the nation’s founding charter exactly as it was signed by the Second Continental Congress in 1776. Or almost exactly? A scholar is now saying that the official transcript of the document produced by the National Archives and Records Administration contains a significant error — smack in the middle of the sentence beginning “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” no less. The error, according to Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., concerns a period that appears right after the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the transcript, but almost certainly not, she maintains, on the badly faded parchment original. That errant spot of ink, she believes, makes a difference, contributing to what she calls a “routine but serious misunderstanding” of the document. The period creates the impression that the list of self-evident truths ends with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she says. But as intended by Thomas Jefferson, she argues, what comes next is just as important: the essential role of governments — “instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” — in securing those rights.” http://nyti.ms/Vh33G8
@elliosch: Hillary Gaffes in London: Gets UK Political Parties Wronghttp://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hillary-gaffes-london-gets-uk-political-parties-wrong_796033.html … http://twitpic.com/e7fon7