Spanking bill sparks controversy

— A Kansas state lawmaker says a bill she’s introduced that would give school teachers and caregivers expanded rights to spank children is not “intended to legalize child abuse.”

Democratic state representative Gail Finney of Wichita put out a statement Tuesday after media stories about her legislation, which would expand on current Kansas law by allowing teachers and caregivers to spank children up to 10 times, possibly causing redness and bruising.

The legislation specifically would allow for spankings “up to ten forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child and any such reasonable physical force on the child as may be necessary to hold, restrain or control the child in the course of maintaining authority over the child, acknowledging that redness or bruising may occur on the tender skin of a child as a result.”

In her statement, Finney said that “Parental corporal discipline in Kansas, along with 49 other states, has always been permitted. Unfortunately, Kansas has never affirmatively, expressly defined corporal discipline in Kansas statute, leaving the interpretation of that matter to administrative officials in the executive branch, law enforcement personnel, and the judicial branch.”

Finney went on to write that her bill “is intended to (i) provide guidance to state officials in the administrative and judicial branches; (ii) serve as a guideline to parents; and (iii) protect Kansas children from abuse.”

Some in Kansas are voicing opposition to the bill.

“Twenty, 30 years ago, we didn’t sit in car seats, and we do now. So maybe they did spank or were spanked as a child, but now we have research that shows it is less effective than time out. It tends to lead to more aggressive behavior with a child,” pediatric nurse practitioner Amy Terreros, a child abuse expert at Children’s Mercy Hospital, told CNN affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rep. John Rubin, chairman of the Kansas House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, said he isn’t sure the committee will consider the bill, according to KCTV.


Reggie Love: Obama played Spades on day Bin Laden was killed

— A famous photo shows President Barack Obama hunkered down in the Situation Room in May 2011 with his national security team as U.S. Navy SEALS carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

But his former body man Reggie Love said in an interview posted online Wednesday that Obama also played cards to distract himself during the day-long ordeal.

In the wide-ranging interview, Love further revealed the president’s reaction upon finding his birth certificate after critics raised an uproar over his eligibility for the White House.

Reggie Love, President Obama's former personal assistant

Reggie Love, President Obama’s former personal assistant

In the July 18 interview, which took place during a lunch hosted by UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, Love talked about life with the president, including the historic moment more than two years ago when bin Laden was killed.

Describing it as a “very long day,” Love said most people were in the Situation Room but Obama came to the private dining room to play cards with Love, White House photographer Pete Souza and staffer Marvin Nicholson.

“[President Obama] was like, ‘I’m not, I’m not going to be down there, I can’t watch this entire thing’,” Love said. “We must have played 15 hands-15 games of Spades.”

Love, who left the White House at the end of 2011 to complete his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, also recalled the moment when the president “finally” found his birth certificate.

The moderator jumped in: “It took a little too long, by the way.”

Explaining the delay, Love said when “your parents don’t live together (and) you travel all over the world, documents get lost.”

“He wanted to just have an impromptu press conference, just walk in to the press briefing room in the White House and put it down on the podium. And everyone was like ‘That’s a really bad idea’,” Love said, drawing laughs from the audience.

“But he was very gung-ho about doing it, because he was so irritated about it,” he said.

Of course, in April 2011, the president did in fact announce the news in the press briefing room, shortly after his office released the long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.

“Normally I would not comment on something like this,” Obama said. But the country has pressing fiscal and other priorities, he added, and the so-called birther story had been a distraction.

Obama released a shorter, legally binding “certification of live birth” in 2008, but that failed to persuade members of the “birther” movement.

CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


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Jacksons, set for sentencing, tell court of preferences

— A Washington-based charity wrote in a letter to a federal judge Tuesday it was interested in hosting former Chicago Alderman Sandra Jackson “in her performance of community service” as part of a potential sentence for filing false tax returns.

The letter came the day before Jackson, along with her husband former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., are sentenced for their roles in misusing campaign funds to cover personal expenses.

The pair pleaded guilty in February to the various changes — Jesse Jackson Jr. to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements; and his wife to filing false tax returns.

The former Illinois congressman admitted to years of using campaign money to pay for things like vacations, restaurant bills and Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Federal prosecutors wrote in a June sentencing document they wanted Jesse Jackson Jr. to receive four years in prison for the violation, though Jackson Jr.’s lawyers asked for a jail term below the guideline range of 46-57 months.

In a letter to the court Monday, the former congressman’s legal team requested he be jailed at federal correctional facilities either in Montgomery, Alabama, or Butner, North Carolina. The lawyers noted those facilities’ proximity to Washington, D.C., where the Jacksons’ children live.

In June government prosecutors said would recommend the Jacksons not serve their sentences at the same time because of their children. The proposal suggested Sandra serve first.

Prosecutors recommended Sandra Jackson serve an 18 month sentence and pay $168,550.01 in restitution, though her legal team recommended only probation.

In the letter Tuesday, a representative for Washington-based Martha’s Table wrote the charity welcomed “the participation of Mrs. Jackson as a volunteer in the program.”

Martha’s Table provides food and clothing programs to Washingtonians, as well as education programs and initiatives meant to strengthen families.

CNN’s Carol Cratty and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


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Oprah to host fundraiser for Booker

— Oprah Winfrey is lending her star power to a rising star in the Democratic Party.

The influential TV personality and media titan will help host a fundraiser for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is running in a special election for a U.S. Senate seat.

Winfrey’s fundraiser will be Thursday in Jersey City, with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $2,600. Booker’s campaign confirmed the event to CNN.

Winfrey’s involvement isn’t too surprising. She has featured Booker on her show, and in 2011, she wrote a blurb about him for TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”

“Cory Booker is a genius,” she wrote. “I could sense it the first day I met him. His enormous intelligence is surpassed only by his heart. He is compassionate, committed, charismatic and generous of spirit. He defines servant leader.”

She added that Booker is Newark’s “biggest cheerleader” and she looked forward to “the day we all get to cheer him on wherever politically he chooses to go.”

Since Booker launched his campaign in early June to fill the seat left vacant after Sen. Frank Lautenberg passed away, the Democrat has made a large fundraising haul. According to Federal Election Commission reports, Booker had raised $6.5 million as of June 30 and had $4.5 million in the bank.

Recent polls have consistently indicated Booker is the front-runner in the Democratic primary and in hypothetical matchups with Republicans. The primary takes place August 13, and the special election will be October 16.

CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


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