Monday, November 30
NEW: Obama offers governors individualized reports on refugees
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is proposing to offer governors individualized reports about refugees in their states.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says in letters to all 50 governors that upon receiving a governor's request, the State Department would send back a "tailored report" on refugees resettled in the last month and throughout the year so far.
A copy of the letter sent to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was obtained by The Associated Press.
McDonough says the State Department would update the information monthly on a password-protected website. He says it would break down refugees by nationality, gender and age range.
The new system comes as governors have sought to block Obama from placing Syrian refugees in their states following the Paris attacks linked to the Islamic State group.
House may move quickly to overhaul visa waiver program
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress may move quickly to overhaul a program that allows travel to the U.S. with no visa, something that has come under criticism following the Paris terror attacks.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Monday that he was looking at action before the end of the year. The California Republican said that without legislation, "I think the country will be less safe."
At the same time, the White House announced a series of changes aimed at improving the program, including more terrorism information sharing with other countries.
The so-called visa waiver program lets people from 38 countries visit the U.S. for 90-day stays without obtaining a visa. It has come under scrutiny following the Paris terror attacks since several of the suspected perpetrators were from Belgium and France, which are countries on the list.
New: Senate confirms Obama's pick for USAID administrator
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development after months of delay rooted in a separate dispute over the international nuclear deal with Iran.
Senators voted 79-7 Monday to confirm Gayle Smith to be administrator of USAID. Smith is the senior director for development and democracy at the White House's National Security Council.
Smith's nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July, but has been held up for months by Republicans controlling the chamber.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said over the summer that he would block any nominees for State Department positions to protest the Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran. As a consequence, USAID has been without a leader. EW: Senate confirms Obama's pick for USAID administrator
KILLINGS BY POLICE-CHICAGO
Man charged in U of Chicago threat appears in court
CHICAGO (AP) — A 21-year-old black man has made an initial appearance in federal court on allegations that he threatened to kill 16 white male students or staff at the University of Chicago in response to the killing of a black teenager by a white city police officer.
Prosecutors indicated at today's hearing that they'll agree to Jabari R. Dean being released before trial. The judge ordered Dean be held at least until a Tuesday bond hearing.
A University of Illinois at Chicago spokeswoman confirmed that Dean is a freshman majoring in electrical engineering.
A visibly ill-at-ease Jabari wore a red sweatshirt emblazoned with the words "The University of Illinois at Chicago."
A prosecutor said Jabari cooperated after federal agents confronted him and that he didn't appear to pose a threat.
Dean didn't enter a plea and his lawyer declined comment afterward.
World leaders hope to make a statement by agreeing on climate deal
LE BOURGET, France (AP) — It's the largest group of world leaders ever to stand together -- and the issue that's brought them to the summit near Paris is climate change.
As they began two weeks of talks Monday, leaders said that an ambitious deal to curb global warming can send a message to terrorists, by showing what countries can achieve when they are united.
The gathering comes two weeks after militants linked to the Islamic State group killed 130 people around Paris. Fears of more attacks have prompted extra-high security and a crackdown on environmental protests.
The leaders of several of the countries taking part in the climate summit are calling on economies around the world to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions, as a way to fight global warming. The appeal comes from the heads of France, Germany, Chile, Mexico, Ethiopia and Canada, along with the World Bank.
They want to see some kind of mechanism that would essentially charge a price for each ton of carbon dioxide produced by industry. It could be a simple tax, or a more complex system involving a carbon credit.
GOP leader defends House Planned Parenthood investigation
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican congressional leader is defending a House investigation of Planned Parenthood's provision of fetal tissue to researchers. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the same time offered no suggestion Monday that last week's shooting deaths at one of the group's clinics will cause the GOP to retreat from that probe.
But the California Republican also indicated that the GOP-run Congress will not risk a government shutdown fight with President Barack Obama over GOP efforts to halt federal funding for the organization, which provides abortions and other health services to women.
Some conservatives want congressional leaders to include language blocking Planned Parenthood's federal funds in a bill keeping federal agencies functioning past Dec. 11. Obama would veto such a bill, resulting in a partial government shutdown, a battle many GOP leaders hope to avoid with the approach of next year's presidential and congressional elections.
Putin, Obama discuss Syria political settlement
PARIS (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and President Barack Obama have a shared understanding on how to move toward a political settlement in Syria, but added that incidents like the recent downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish fighter jet stymie broader cooperation against extremism.
Putin and Obama had a half-hour meeting Monday on the sidelines of a climate summit near Paris, and the Russian leader told reporters they discussed efforts to compile a list of extremist groups and another one of members of legitimate political opposition.
Putin said "we have an understanding how we should proceed if we talk about a political settlement. We need to work on a new (Syrian) constitution, new elections and the control over their outcome."
British leader sets Syria airstrikes debate for Wednesday
LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron says Parliament will hold a debate Wednesday on whether Britain should launch airstrikes against militants in Syria.
Cameron's statement Monday comes only hours after opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn decided that Labour Party lawmakers would be allowed to vote their conscience on the matter — rather than to keep party discipline and have a unified stance.
The decision came after members of Corbyn's inner circle had threated to break ranks and vote with Cameron.
Cameron has said he wouldn't take the matter to Parliament unless he could be certain of victory, worried that Britain's prestige would be at risk.
Fire crew searching for Texas woman find flooded car, body
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Firefighters searching for a 76-year-old woman who was swept away in fast-moving North Texas floodwaters have found a submerged car with a body inside.
The Fort Worth Fire Department says the car was found Monday a mile downstream from where Zenola (zuh-NOH'-luh) Jenkins' vehicle washed off a highway bridge Friday.
Department spokesman Kyle Clay says firefighters believe the car belongs to Jenkins, who lived nearby in Burleson, and that the body inside is her.
A deputy swept away during an attempt to rescue Jenkins survived by clinging to a tree.
Eight people died in flooding during storms in Texas over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Heavy rain caused sanitary sewer overflows at several locations in Dallas. Utility officials said Monday that none of the diluted wastewater affected city water supplies.
JERRY BROWN-OIL REGULATORS
Newspaper: California's top oil regulator resigning
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A newspaper is reporting that California's top oil regulator is resigning after 17 months on the job.
Steve Bohlen, the state's oil and gas chief, told the Sacramento Bee he is quitting to return to research (http://bit.ly/1OAueCc ).
The newspaper did not give a reason. The state's oil and gas division did not immediately return calls for comment.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Gov. Jerry Brown directed Bohlen in June 2014 to investigate and map out the oil and gas potential and history of the Brown family ranch.
Bohlen and Brown aides said the public work for Brown was legal and normal. The worker who prepared the map for Brown filed a whistleblower complaint, however, and former oil regulators told the AP the state oil work for Brown was unique.
A new union election at VW, this time without the furor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new union vote is scheduled for this week at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, but so far it's been largely devoid of the public threats, promises and handwringing that surrounded last year's election at the factory.
The United Auto Workers was narrowly defeated in last year's election among the entire blue-collar workforce at the factory. The union is taking a more limited approach this time in seeking to represent just the 165 skilled-trades workers and not the 1,250 production workers.
Leading UAW critic Sen. Bob Corker has not commented on the new vote since it was announced last month. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has mostly limited his criticism to questioning the timing of the vote: amid the turmoil faced by Volkswagen over its diesel emissions cheating scandal.
Capitol Hill Buzz: New Speaker, facial hair
WASHINGTON (AP) — New House Speaker. New look: facial hair.
Speaker Paul Ryan was the bearded man at the Capitol on Monday, showing off plenty of facial hair in what his office called his "hunting beard."
The 45-year-old Wisconsin Republican, seated with his arms crossed, had the beard in a photo on Twitter that posed the question, "Hey @USHouseHistory, when was the last time a Speaker of the House sported a beard?"
Ryan succeeded a beardless John Boehner, who stepped down as speaker in October.
It was unclear whether Ryan would shave or not.