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August 1, 2014
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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced Thursday that the Obama administration considered the Israeli destruction of a U.N. school in Gaza "totally indefensible." The school had been converted into a shelter for Palestinian civilians, and at least 19 people died in the attack.

But the administration seems to have forgotten its own record of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, which have claimed a large number of child victims. The president has personally approved drone strikes that have targeted wedding celebrations, schools, health centers, and even first responders. Bonnie Kristian

5:54 p.m. ET
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Despite the fact that chlorpyrifos have been banned from consumer products and residential use in the United States for more than 15 years and multiple studies have suggested the chemicals can have a negative impact on cognitive development in children, the Environmental Protection Agency's new head, Scott Pruitt, signed an order on Wednesday that will let farmers continue to spray the pesticide on several crops, including wheat, apples, citrus, and corn.

The Obama administration recommended banning chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate originally developed to serve as a nerve agent weapon, and the Pesticide Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council both petitioned the EPA in 2007 to ban the chemical; Pruitt denied the petition Wednesday, and said he made his decision based on "sound science." "The new administration's agency ignored their own findings that all exposures to chlorpyrifos on foods, in drinking water, and from pesticide drift into schools, homes, and playgrounds are unsafe," Kristin Schafer, policy director at Pesticide Action Network, said in a statement.

Every year in the United States, five to 10 million pounds of the chemical are sprayed on crops. Chlorpyrifos is manufactured by DowAgroSciences, which in January objected to the ban. In California, its use has been severely restricted, and it can't be sprayed near schools and other locations when winds are clocking in at 10 mph or more, the Los Angeles Times reports. A U.C. Berkeley study of 7-year-old children living in California's Salinas Valley who were exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos in utero found that they had slightly lower IQ scores than their peers; Columbia University discovered similar findings during their own study. Catherine Garcia

5:43 p.m. ET
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Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, allowing a resolution rolling back federal funding for abortion providers including Planned Parenthood to move forward. After a final Senate vote that will reportedly happen Friday, the legislation will likely head to President Trump's desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.

The measure undoes a law enacted under former President Barack Obama that prevents states from blocking money for family planning clinics that provide abortions. If passed, states would be allowed to withhold funding to abortion providers.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who has been out since Feb. 20 recovering from back surgery, made an appearance to vote in favor of the measure. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) joined Democrats in voting against it. Becca Stanek

5:00 p.m. ET
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Thursday signed a measure that rolled back the state's controversial "bathroom law" that required people use public restrooms and locker rooms based on what's on their birth certificate, not their gender identity.

"This was about more than sports and jobs, it was about discrimination and it was about North Carolina's reputation," Cooper said. "It was about wanting us to work toward ending discrimination, and I could not tolerate having HB2 be the law of the land in North Carolina." A compromise on the bill between Cooper and Republicans was made on Wednesday night, and on Thursday the state Senate passed it 32-16 and the House 70-48.

After HB2 passed, several businesses announced they would cut ties with North Carolina, and the NCAA said it would not consider holding championship games there until HB2 was repealed. The new bill repeals the bathroom law, but prevents local governments from passing or amending nondiscrimination ordinances until December 2020. Several LGBT groups say the bill does not safeguard transgender people, and the ACLU tweeted, "Disappointed the #NCGA just voted for a bill which fails to end LGBT discrimination in a move to put basketball over civil rights." Catherine Garcia

4:50 p.m. ET
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Sen. Joe Manchin, the Democratic lawmaker from West Virginia who has been known to support the GOP's agenda, announced Thursday he will vote in favor of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Manchin is the first Democrat to announce support for Gorsuch.

"Senators have a constitutional obligation to advice and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy and, simply put, we have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials," Manchin said in a statement. He said that after meeting with Gorsuch and watching him testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has found him to be "an honest and thoughtful man." "I hold no illusions that I will agree with every decision Judge Gorsuch may issue in the future, but I have not found any reasons why this jurist should not be a Supreme Court justice," Manchin said.

Many Democrats, still frustrated by Republicans' refusal to grant a hearing to former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick, have vowed to oppose Gorsuch. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced last week after Gorsuch's hearing that he would vote against Gorsuch's confirmation. He requested that Democrats join him in blocking an up-or-down vote on Trump's pick.

Even with Manchin's support, Republicans still fall short of the 60 votes needed to secure Gorsuch's confirmation. If Republicans can't get an additional seven Democrats to support Gorsuch, they may resort to the "nuclear option" of eliminating the Supreme Court nominee filibuster. Becca Stanek

4:29 p.m. ET
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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday the White House will show high-ranking lawmakers on intelligence committees information discovered by the National Security Council while investigating President Trump's baseless claims that Trump Tower had been wiretapped by former President Barack Obama, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said he wants to see these materials, the sooner the better.

Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, held a press conference Thursday afternoon where he confirmed he received an invitation to see the documents, but said he had "profound concern" with how the materials were being provided. It's unclear if these materials are the same ones that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, saw last week and told Trump about during a visit to the White House, a move that caused an uproar from Democrats and Republicans alike.

"I'm in the either enviable or unenviable position of not knowing what these materials are," Schiff said. "People need to understand the process of figuring out how these were collected, whether properly collected, whether properly disseminated, properly masked or unmasked. We look at these types of issues all the time. This isn't new for our committee, which is what makes it so unusual, irregular, that it would be presented to us in that way. This is within our ordinary wheelhouse. There is a proper way to put this before the committee that certainly wasn't followed here and the White House ought to explain why it wasn't followed here."

Despite the confusion surrounding the investigation and the fact that there is a "cloud" over the committee's probe into Russia's meddling with the presidential election, Schiff said the hoopla surrounding Nunes and his secretive trips to the White House will "not distract" them from the inquiry. Catherine Garcia

3:49 p.m. ET
South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images

South Korea's ousted President Park Guen-hye was arrested in Seoul early Friday morning. Park, who was impeached and formally removed from office earlier this month over a corruption scandal, is facing charges "including bribery, extortion, and abuse of power," The New York Times reported. A South Korean court had approved Park's arrest after a hearing called on Thursday, and warned that if she was not quickly taken into custody she may "destroy evidence."

Park's ouster and subsequent arrest stemmed from a bribery scandal with her childhood friend, Choi Soon-sil, to extort millions of dollars in bribes from big businesses, including Samsung.

Park is South Korea's first female president, and The New York Times reported she is also the first former South Korean leader to be jailed since the 1990s, when "two former military dictators were imprisoned on corruption and mutiny charges."

Prosecutors will seek a formal indictment within the next 20 days. Becca Stanek

3:23 p.m. ET
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On Thursday, President Trump broadly threatened to run primary challengers against members of the House Freedom Caucus after the ultra-conservative faction put the breaks on the GOP health-care bill last week, claiming it was too similar to ObamaCare. But Trump has apparently threatened specific individuals too, according to Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).

Sanford told The Post and Courier that Trump sent Sanford's friend, White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, to deliver the message: "The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted 'no' on this bill so he could run [a primary challenger] against you in 2018," Sanford claimed Mulvaney told him. Mulvaney had allegedly not wanted to deliver the message but Trump insisted.

"I mentioned this to a couple of colleagues and they said it sounds very Godfather-ish," Sanford noted. "Their point was that this approach might work in New Jersey, but it probably doesn't work so well in South Carolina." Sanford quoted the South Carolina Republican Creed in response to Trump's threat: "I will never cower before any master, save by God."

Sanford has long been a vocal critic of Trump, slamming him on everything from his refusal to release his tax returns to his baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud. But while Sanford claims he has "nothing" against the president, he added: "I've never had anyone, over my time in politics, put [the threat of a primary challenge] to me as directly as that."

The Post and Courier suggested Sanford might "perhaps [be] understating just how monumental it is for a sitting president to openly go after members of his own party." Jeva Lange

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