Dems hit Bush after comments on funding for women’s health – By SERGIO BUSTOS and ERIK SCHELZIG3 hours agoRepublican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, is interviewed by Dr. Russell Moore at the Send North America Conference, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush vowed Tuesday to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood if elected to the White House, but drew immediate fire from Democrats for adding, „I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”Related Stories
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton replied on Twitter, „@JebBush: You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong.”And Planned Parenthood issued a statement saying Bush „told the rest of America what Florida women have known for years, which is that he doesn’t believe women’s health is worth much.”Bush leapt at the chance Tuesday to prove his anti-abortion bona fides before a group of largely conservative Christian voters at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The former Florida governor was asked during an onstage interview, „Shouldn’t we … say not one more red cent for Planned Parenthood?”His response — „The next president should veto Planned Parenthood” — drew a loud ovation at the packed Bridgestone Arena.But his comments about money for women’s health left Bush and his campaign cleaning up his remarks just hours later. He issued a statement saying he „misspoke” when speaking about women’s health funding and was referring only to the „hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding” for Planned Parenthood.”There are countless community health centers, rural clinics and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded,” Bush said. „They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don’t have the access they need.”An earlier statement sent to reporters lacked Bush’s assertion that he had misspoken. The campaign said the first version was a draft.But the latter statement, too, wasn’t quite right. Planned Parenthood says of its $1.3 billion in revenue last year, $528 million came from taxpayers, but not all of it was federal money — some came from state funds that help finance Medicaid.Bush’s campaign also included a statement from Rhonda Medows, the secretary of Florida’s Health Care Administration agency during his tenure as governor.”I watched his dedication to women’s health issues and services first hand,” Medows said. „He was intent on improving the quality of care offered to women under our state health programs, and he enhanced access to vital services to women through new access points.”And Bush shot back at Clinton on Twitter, too, writing, „what’s absolutely, unequivocally wrong is giving taxpayer $ to an org whose practices show no regard for lives of unborn.”At an organizing event later in Denver, Clinton added, „Now he’s got no problem giving away billions of dollars to super-powerful and wealthy corporations, but I guess women’s health just isn’t a priority for him.”Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s challenging Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, slammed Bush in a fundraising email Tuesday and said, „We need to be spending a lot more money on women’s health care.”The question of Planned Parenthood’s funding leapt into the 2016 presidential contest this week amid an ongoing row into the release of graphic videos, secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists, that show officials of the group describing how they sometimes provide fetal tissue to medical researchers.Planned Parenthood provides health services, family planning and abortions in clinics nationwide and is a longtime target of conservatives. While federal money is barred from paying for abortions, except for cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in peril, Republicans would like to cut off tax dollars for the group entirely.The Senate on Monday voted 53-46 to advance a GOP-backed bill terminating Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, seven short of the 60 votes needed to keep the measure moving toward passage.Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who spoke in a pre-recorded interview to the conference, said the „erroneous” 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion must be overturned. „Until that decision is reversed there will be abortion in America,” he said.Abortion opponents say the recordings caught Planned Parenthood illegally selling the organs for profit, while Planned Parenthood officials — while apologizing for their workers’ businesslike words — say they’ve abided by laws that let them recoup the procedures’ costs.”What those videos revealed more than anything else is that abortion in America has become a money-making industry,” Rubio said._Bustos reported from Miami.
Arnold Scaasi, Who Dressed Five First Ladies & Barbra Streisand, Dies at 85 Rosemary Feitelberg Arnold Scaasi, a designer and confidante to a bevy of First Ladies and New York insiders, died today at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.Scaasi, 85, died of cardiac arrest, according to the columnist Liz Smith, a longtime friend.By his own account, Scaasi dressed five First Ladies — six, if you add in Lady Bird Johnson, whom he puts in a separate category. His White House days go way back, to Mamie Eisenhower, whom he first dressed in 1960, “then on to Jackie Kennedy before she went into the White House, as the Senator’s wife, and also after. And then, of course, Barbara Bush, who I still dress to this day, and Mrs. Clinton and Laura Bush. Is that the right order?” he asked in a 2009 interview with WWD.First Lady Barbara Bush n a navy and royal blue Arnold Scaasi gown at her husband’s 1989 inauguration. Photo: Bettmann/CORBIS Indeed it was, with one omission: “Somewhere in there was Lady Bird Johnson,” whom the designer views differently than the others precisely because he didn’t deal with her directly. Rather, President Lyndon Johnson would somehow happen upon a Scaasi design “and would tell his secretary, you know that wonderful girl from Texas, and he would say, ‘I like that for my wife.’Related: Arnold Scaasi’s Front Row View on First LadiesThen First Lady Hillary Clinton wearing a black ruffled Arnold Scaasi gown to the 20th Annual Literacy Partners Gala in 2004. Photo: Robin Platzer / ContributorArnold Scassi with Barbara Bush in 1997 at the CFDA Awards Gala. By
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Malaysia, a senior official of the U.S. State Department said.Kerry and Lavrov would „discuss a range of issues of mutual concern”, the official said.Kerry, who is in Malaysia for meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations held trilateral talks with Lavrov and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on the war in Syria in Qatar on Monday.Russia has been trying to bring about rapprochement between the Syrian government and regional states including Saudi Arabia and Turkey to forge an alliance to fight Islamic State militants who have taken large amounts of territory in Syria’s civil war.(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Former South Korea first lady begins rare trip to North 3 hours agoSeoul (AFP) – The widow of late South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung flew to North Korea on Wednesday, hoping the rare trip would help ease the perennial tensions that have stymied efforts at cross-border cooperation.Related Stories
The August 5-8 visit by Lee Hee-Ho is ostensibly humanitarian in nature but there has been much speculation about a possible meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who personally approved the trip.”I hope that this trip will offer a window for more dialogue, exchange and cooperation,” Lee was quoted as saying by her spokesman at a Seoul airport.”I am going to Pyongyang with hopes that Koreans can … heal the wounds and pain of the past 70 years of division,” she said.The two Koreas technically remain at war and direct flights between the two countries — such as the one taken by Lee and her 18-member entourage — are extremely rare.Lee has visited the North three times, the last trip being to pay respects during the funeral of Kim Jong-Un’s father, the late leader Kim Jong-Il, in December 2011.A screen grab from Korean Central Television shows Lee Hee-Ho shaking hands with Kim Jong-Un in Dece …At the time, she briefly met with Kim Jong-Un while he was receiving mourners.Lee’s husband is best remembered for his „sunshine” policy of engagement with the isolated but nuclear-armed North Korea that led to a historic summit with Kim Jong-Il in 2000.The policy was however largely abandoned when a conservative administration took power in 2008 and cross-border ties soured.A series of nuclear and missile launches by the North in recent years as well as occasional military clashes have kept tensions on a high simmer.Seoul has stressed that Lee’s visit is a personal one and she is not carrying any official message from the South Korean government.Her entourage includes no sitting South Korean official.But some analysts say her trip and its sanctioning by Kim Jong-Un may offer a window for resuming a dialogue in relatively non-political issues.Almost all talks over major issues from Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal to the resumption of official South Korean aid for the North have been shelved for years.The visit comes just ahead of the 70th anniversary of the August 15, 1945 liberation of the pre-division Korean peninsula from Japanese colonial rule.At the start of the year, there had been hopes that the anniversary could serve as an icebreaker for a resumption of dialogue, but the two sides have been unable to agree on any joint celebratory event.
Obama, Netanyahu make dueling appeals on Iran to US Jews By JULIE PACE5 hours agoWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made dueling appeals to the American Jewish community Tuesday as they sought to rally support for their opposing positions on the Iranian nuclear deal.Related Stories
Obama met privately for more two hours with Jewish leaders at the White House, making a detailed case for the nuclear accord and urging opponents — including some in the room — to stick to the facts in making their own arguments, according to participants. He singled out the tens of millions of dollars being spent by critics, most notably the pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.The president’s meeting came hours after Netanyahu participated in a live webcast aimed at Americans Jews. The prime minister railed against the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, calling it a „bad deal” that leaves Tehran on the brink of a bomb.”The nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It actually paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” Netanyahu said in his remarks. Organizers said about 10,000 people participated in the meeting.Netanyahu, one of the fiercest critics of the nuclear accord, also disputed Obama’s assertion that opponents of the diplomatic deal favor war. He called that assertion „utterly false,” saying Israel wants peace, not war.Participants in Obama’s meeting with Jewish leaders said attendees who oppose the deal raised with the president their concern over being painted as eager for war. They said while Obama appeared sympathetic to their concerns, he continued to argue that if Congress rejects the agreement, he or the next president would quickly face a decision on taking military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Wash …The back-to-back sales pitches from the leaders came on the eve of a foreign policy address Obama was to deliver as he seeks to bolster support for the deal in Congress. A White House official said Obama would frame lawmakers’ decision to approve or disapprove of the deal as the most consequential foreign policy debate since the decision to go to war in Iraq.The official said Obama would also argue that those who backed the Iraq war, which is now widely seen as a mistake, are the same ones who oppose the Iran deal.The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to preview the president’s address by name. Participants in the meeting were also granted anonymity in order to comment on their private discussions with the president.The White House is preparing for the likelihood that lawmakers will vote against the deal next month and is focusing its lobbying efforts on getting enough Democrats to sustain a veto. Only one chamber of Congress is needed to sustain a veto.Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that the White House is confident it can sustain a veto „at least in the House.”The president got a boost in the Senate Tuesday with Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Bill Nelson of Florida announcing their support for the deal. However, the administration lost the backing of three prominent Jewish Democrats — New York Reps. Steve Israel and Nita Lowey and Florida Rep. Ted Deutch.Obama, who has long been criticized for his lack of engagement with Congress, has gotten personally involved in selling the deal to lawmakers and other influential groups. Those who have met with him say he has a detailed understanding of the complex agreement, which is perhaps his top foreign policy priority.”It was pretty solid evidence of a couple of things: first of all, just how engaged the president is on this issue, and second, how important it is to him,” said Andrew Weinstein, a South Florida community leader who attended the meeting.Also among the roughly two-dozen leaders joining Obama in the Cabinet Room were Michael Kassen and Lee Rosenberg of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is vehemently opposed to the deal, as well as Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street, who is among the deal’s most vocal proponents. The White House said representatives from the Orthodox Union, the Reform Movement, the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League also attended.___Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC