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July 13, 2014
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Some bad news for Sarah Palin and other conservatives who are itching for President Obama to be impeached: The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which handles any impeachments, has now said no to it.

"We are not working on or drawing up articles of impeachment," Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said during an interview on on ABC's This Week. "The Constitution is very clear as to what constitutes grounds for impeachment of the president of the United States. He has not committed the kind of criminal acts that call for that.

"On the other hand, we do believe that the president is not enforcing the law. And there's a wide array of issues, not just immigration, where we believe that," Goodlatte continued. "And that's why the speaker, and many of us in the Congress, are getting ready to take legal action to stand up for the people's right for their elected representatives to be the part of our government that passes laws — not a president with his pen and his cell phone."

Last week, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also turned down calls for Obama's impeachment, telling reporters quite simply: "I disagree." --Eric Kleefeld

10:03 a.m. ET
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Workers employed at a Chinese factory used by Ivanka Trump to manufacture shoes have spoken to the media for the first time, detailing nightmarish conditions, long hours, and abuse at the hands of managers, The Associated Press reports. In one particularly upsetting incident, the workers recalled a manager bludgeoning an employee on the head with the heel of a stiletto. "There was a lot of blood. [The employee] went to the factory's nurse station, passing by me," one of the workers recalled.

Ganzhou Huajian International Shoe City Co. is used by several other fashion brands in addition to Ivanka Trump's. Trump's brand, though, has come under particular criticism for its association with the company because of Trump's retained ownership interest in her brand while serving in the government. On Tuesday, for example, the president's eldest daughter skewered China, which has been demoted by the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report to the lowest possible level, claiming the government report was a "clarion call into action in defense of the vulnerable and the exploited" — but she has yet to comment on the conditions at her supplier's factory.

Recently, three human rights investigators for the New York-based China Labor Watch were detained and accused of secretly recording inside the factory. The group's founder, Li Qiang, said the reports out of the Ganzhou factory are "among the worst he has seen in nearly two decades investigating labor abuses," AP writes. "His group says pay can be as low as a dollar an hour, in violation of China's labor laws. According to China Labor Watch investigators, until recently, workers might get only two days off — or less — per month."

Read more about the factory at The Associated Press. Jeva Lange

10:01 a.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Historically, successful presidents are both "revered and feared" by their fellow party members in Congress, The Washington Post reported. President Trump, it seems, is neither.

In spite of Trump's "mix of bravado, threats, and efforts to schmooze with GOP lawmakers," the roiling Republican debate over health care has revealed Trump might not be the commanding force he thinks he is, the Post reported:

In private conversations on Capitol Hill, Trump is often not taken seriously. Some Republican lawmakers consider some of his promises — such as making Mexico pay for a new border wall — fantastical. They are exhausted and at times exasperated by his hopscotching from one subject to the next, chronicled in his pithy and provocative tweets. They are quick to point out how little command he demonstrates of policy. And they have come to regard some of his threats as empty, concluding that crossing the president poses little danger.

"The House health-care vote shows he does have juice, particularly with people on the right," Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. "The Senate health-care vote shows that people feel that health care is a defining issue and that it'd be pretty hard for any politician to push a senator into taking a vote that's going to have consequences for the rest of their life."

Asked if he personally fears Trump, Graham chuckled before saying, "No." [The Washington Post]

Shortly after the article was published, Trump on Wednesday morning fired off one of his signature "pithy and provocative tweets" making clear just how much stock he puts in The Washington Post's reporting:

Read more on the story at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

9:22 a.m. ET
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Five months after visiting the Obama White House to celebrate their 2016 World Series win, the Chicago Cubs expressed mixed feelings about the team's invitation to the Trump White House on Wednesday. "I just don't feel like I want to go," reliever Pedro Strop admitted to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Other Cubs were similarly ambivalent, with pitcher Justin Grimm saying he'd go if he didn't have family in town and relief pitcher Hector Rondon adding, "I prefer to stay in my room, get rest, and get prepared for the game."

Of 22 players interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times, 10 said they were skipping the White House visit. But first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "I'm going because it's the United States of America, and I'd rather not live anywhere else except this country. It's an honor. No political ties. It's the White House." Pitcher Mike Montgomery, who is also attending, was not quite as enthusiastic as his teammate but said it would be "maybe a little disrespectful to turn it down."

Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. is turning down the invitation — because he has better plans. "I'm trying to go see, like, the dinosaur museums," he said. Jeva Lange

8:50 a.m. ET

Documents detailing how Facebook chooses to censor content were published by ProPublica on Wednesday — and they might raise a few eyebrows. One particularly questionable slide used to train censors teaches that "white males" are a protected category and attacks against them warrant users being blocked while unprotected "subsets," such as "black children," are fair game for vile internet trolls.

The reason is because Facebook "protects" people on the grounds of sex, religious affiliation, national origin, gender identity, serious disability or disease, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and race, but does not protect social class, continental origin, appearance, age, occupation, political ideology, religions, or countries. "Irish women," then, is a protected category, but not "Irish teens."

Facebook defended its policy as an imperfect attempt to apply consistent protection of minorities and genders around the globe. "The policies do not always lead to perfect outcomes," admitted the head of global policy management at the company, Monika Bickert,. "That is the reality of having policies that apply to a global community where people around the world are going to have very different ideas about what is okay to share."

Sometimes the policies appear to have especially imperfect outcomes, though. For example, swastikas are allowed on Facebook due to a rule permitting the "display [of] hate symbols for political messaging," but the statement "the French are the best but the Irish suck" would be banned because another rule states "it's okay to claim superiority for a nation ... but not at the expense of another nationality."

A recent thorny issue for Facebook has been speech regarding migrants:

After the wave of Syrian immigrants began arriving in Europe, Facebook added a special "quasi-protected" category for migrants, according to the documents. They are only protected against calls for violence and dehumanizing generalizations, but not against calls for exclusion and degrading generalizations that are not dehumanizing. So, according to one document, migrants can be referred to as "filthy" but not called "filth." They cannot be likened to filth or disease "when the comparison is in the noun form," the document explains. [ProPublica]

Read more about Facebook's censorship rules at ProPublica. Jeva Lange

8:46 a.m. ET

Perhaps it is unfair to compare the actions of a politician today to his promises made 27 years ago — it's hard enough to get politicians to live up to campaign promises made in the last election cycle. But this 1990 campaign ad from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), now the Senate majority leader laboring to push through a massive health-care bill, seems fairly relevant.

"When I was a child and my dad was in World War II, I got polio," McConnell said in the ad, uncovered by Jeff Nichols, a Chicago historian. "I recovered, but my family almost went broke. Today, too many families can't get decent, affordable health care. That's why I've introduced a bill to make sure health care is available to all Kentucky families, hold down skyrocketing costs, and provide long-term care." In 1990, McConnell was running for a second term against Democrat Harvey Sloane, a doctor and former Louisville mayor, and the ad ends with a voiceover: "You don't have to be a doctor to deliver health care to Kentucky."

McConnell is still introducing health-care bills and still promising to "hold down skyrocketing costs," but the Congressional Budget Office predicts that his Better Care Reconciliation Act would result in 22 million fewer Americans with health insurance in a decade, starting with 15 million fewer insured next year. The bill's steep Medicaid cuts and structural changes would have an outsize impact on children and people in long-term nursing-home care. Kentucky has a total population of about 4.4 million, and its Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is scaling back the successful ObamaCare program instituted by his predecessor, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D) — who, incidentally, McConnell beat in his 1996 race.

As a side note, McConnell overcame polio with help from the Warm Springs Institute, funded by the organization that would become the March of Dimes; the March of Dimes is one of the medical groups McConnell declined to meet with last week over its concerns about his new health-care bill. Peter Weber

7:49 a.m. ET
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Americans are overwhelmingly unhappy with the Senate Republicans' proposed health-care legislation, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll has found. Just 17 percent of people said they approved of the GOP's ObamaCare replacement, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, while 55 percent said they disapproved.

That number ought to be a warning sign for the GOP, as it signals many members of the party's own base are not happy with the proposed solution. Just 35 percent of Republicans support the bill, the poll found, and 21 percent oppose it. Another 68 percent of independents oppose the Better Care act.

Overall, more Americans want ObamaCare expanded than curbed: 46 percent of Americans said ObamaCare should do more, while just 7 percent believe the Republicans' plan to reduce ObamaCare is the better option.

"With numbers like these, it's not surprising the Republican leadership in Congress is having a difficult time building consensus," the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, Lee Miringoff, told NPR. The poll surveyed 1,205 adults between June 21 and June 25 over landline and mobile phones. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percent. Jeva Lange

7:25 a.m. ET

Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act stalled Tuesday, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delaying the vote until after the July 4 recess in hopes of rallying more support. President Trump expressed his frustration on Wednesday, in particular with a New York Times report that cited a Republican senator who believed, after a White House meeting, that "the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan."

The New York Times' Glenn Thrush replied to Trump's complaint. "Call your office, sir," he tweeted. "[The New York Times] spoke to many, many, many members of your staff yesterday — [and] ran everything by your team." Jeva Lange

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