Former Va. governor's corruption trial begins

ADDS NAME OF LAWYER - Former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, center, with his attorney Henry W. Asbill, left, arrive at the federal courthouse in Richmond, Va., Monday, July 28, 2014, on the first day of jury selection in the corruption trial of McDonnell and his wife in Richmond, Va. Bob and Maureen McDonnell are charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from the CEO of a dietary supplements company in exchange for helping promote his products. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jury selection has begun in the corruption trial of a former Virginia governor and his wife in Richmond.



Former Virginia governor, wife go on trial on corruption charges
By Gary Richardson RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - The federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen starts on Monday, with the couple charged with selling political favors for a loan, gifts and vacations. McDonnell, 60, a Republican once mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, and the former first lady face a 14-count indictment alleging they accepted about $165,000 from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his dietary supplement company. The McDonnells deny the charges, contending in court filings there is no evidence they agreed to use their power to aid the executive, Jonnie Williams, founder of dietary supplement company Star Scientific Inc. Prosecutors say the gifts to McDonnell and his wife ranged from an engraved $6,500 Rolex watch to wedding and engagement presents and money for the couple's daughters, and a $15,000 shopping spree for Maureen McDonnell.

Lawmakers Somehow Nail Down a Plan to Fix the VA System

Lawmakers Somehow Nail Down a Plan to Fix the VA SystemDelegates from the House and Senate have reportedly reached a deal on a bill that will finally fix the mess that has plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs' healthcare system. Over the weekend, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida, were said to have ironed out the deal, the details of which will be announced tomorrow. 



Tentative agreement reached on U.S. veterans' funding bill

Senator-elect Bernie Sanders is interviewed by a Reuters reporter at Sanders' office in BurlingtonBy Peter Cooney WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A tentative agreement has been reached by the chairmen of the U.S. Senate and House veterans committees on legislation aimed at resolving the Veterans Affairs healthcare crisis, their spokesmen said on Sunday. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who heads the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and his House counterpart, Republican Representative Jeff Miller, will outline the agreement at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, their spokesmen said. "Miller and Sanders continued negotiations on a VA reform package this weekend and made significant progress toward an agreement on legislation to make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals," their offices said in a statement.



Cornyn expects U.S. House to pass 'skinnied-down' border bill

Senator Cornyn talks to reporters on immigration crisis in Texas in WashingtonBy John Whitesides WASHINGTON (Reuters) - John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. Senate, said on Sunday he expected the House of Representatives to pass a "skinnied-down" emergency funding bill this week to deal with a surge of migrant children at the southwestern U.S. border. The Republican-controlled House is debating how much to pare from President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion supplemental request, although any House compromise is likely to face opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate before lawmakers try to begin their scheduled summer break at the end of the week. "Fortunately it sounds like the House of Representatives is going to move a piece of legislation this week, which would actually offer a solution," Cornyn said on ABC's "This Week". He also said he expected the House to incorporate a plan he has proposed with Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas to try to speed up deportation of Central American child migrants.



Congressman: ‘Genocide’ Against Christians Going On In Iraq And White House Saying Nothing
Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf says there is a genocide being perpetrated against the Christians of Iraq and the White House hasn’t said a word about it, much less acted to stop it. The terrorist group the Islamic State, an al Qaida off shoot that has taken over large swaths of Iraq in recent months, told Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul they had to convert to Islam by July 18 or they would be killed, according to the Economist. The only other option they were given was to leave Mosul, a city which has had a Christian presence for nearly two millennia. “The definition of genocide was put together by the UN by a guy named Raphael Lemkin.

Texas rolls out security surge for its border with Mexico

A Customs and Border Protection vehicle patrols near the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border near MissionBy Marice Richter DALLAS (Reuters) - Texas has launched a law enforcement surge to crack down on drug and human trafficking from Mexico in a move that comes as the state is about to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, officials said on Friday. The surge, announced last month and recently implemented, places more law enforcement officials and resources on the border and will result in $1.3 million in additional spending a week for the Texas Department of Public Safety, officials from the department said, without offering a specific date when it was launched. Texas Governor Rick Perry, seen as a potential Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election, has blamed the Obama administration for not doing enough to halt a surge in children from Central America crossing the border. "Mexican cartels and criminal elements are taking advantage of this situation by further exploiting these gaps along the border to commit heinous crimes that will further their business," said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger.



U.S. lawmaker urges halt to Ex-Im deals in Russia
A conservative U.S. lawmaker called on Friday for the Export-Import Bank to halt deals with Russia, but a U.S. company warned that a broader proposal to close the export credit agency would stymie a project that is helping to wean Ukraine off Russian energy. Republican representative and Ex-Im critic Jeb Hensarling said the worsening situation in Ukraine, where government forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists, showed Russia was in direct conflict with U.S. interests and said Ex-Im should stop any financing that benefits Russian companies.

U.S. appeals court backs Florida law in 'Docs v. Glocks' case
(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday in favor of a Florida law that bars doctors from asking patients about gun ownership, overturning a decision in the so-called "Docs v. Glocks" case by a lower court that had struck it down. Florida's Republican-led legislature passed the law after a north Florida couple complained that a doctor asked them if they had guns, and refused to see them after they declined to answer. A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, vacated the federal judge's ruling and described the law as a "legitimate regulation" of professional conduct that simply codified good medical care. Any restrictions it places on physicians' speech was entirely incidental, the appeals court said, since it "was intended to protect patient privacy and curtail abuses of the physician-patient relationship." Lawyers representing doctors and others had argued that the law violated healthcare providers' First Amendment rights by threatening them with heavy fines and the possibility of losing their license should they broach the subject.

House panel set for Tuesday vote on Fed transparency bill

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in WashingtonThe House Financial Services Committee said on Friday that it will vote on a bill next week aimed at bringing more transparency to the Federal Reserve, including the controversial requirement of adopting a rules-based approach to its policy. Fed officials and economists have expressed concern that the legislation threatens to strip independence from the Fed, which sets monetary policy for the United States under the dual mandate of keeping unemployment low and keeping prices stable. The bill, which Fed Chair Janet Yellen has criticized in public testimony, will come up for a House vote on Tuesday, committee chairman and Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling said in a statement. The Republican-sponsored legislation is unlikely to gain any traction in the Democrat-led Senate, but it could come up for a "show" vote in the House before congressional mid-term elections.



Rand Paul Thinks Crack Sentencing Is Whack

Rand Paul Thinks Crack Sentencing Is WhackSen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced new legislation today that would eliminate the disparity in sentencing for offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Current law carries much harsher penalties for the possession of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration,...



Special counsel says White House political office acted within law
The White House's political office did not engage in illegal partisan activity, a federal oversight agency said following a congressional hearing to probe whether taxpayer money has been used by the Obama administration for political purposes. The Office of Political Strategy and Outreach (OPSO) "appears to be operating in a manner that is consistent with Hatch Act restrictions," the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel said in a letter dated July 24 and released on Friday. It also said it has received no allegations about wrongdoing about any staffers in the White House's political unit, including by director David Simas. The House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee, headed by Republican Darrell Issa, held a hearing last week on how the political office has complied with the Hatch Act, which forbids most federal government employees from engaging in partisan political activity.

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