John King, USA

The latest political news and information on the most important stories affecting you.
April 12th, 2011
12:50 PM ET

Japan's Nuclear Crisis: Tied With Chernobyl for Worst-Ever

Today we have a new measure of the magnitude of the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Japanese government raised the situation from a Level 5 event to Level 7 on the international system for rating nuclear accidents. Level 7 is the top of the scale. Japan’s crisis now shares the worst-ever ranking with the 1986 accident at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant; even though scientists believe the amount of radiation released so far is only a tenth of what was released at Chernobyl.

One of John King USA’s frequent guests since the crisis began has been nuclear safety expert Arnie Gundersen, the chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates. Back on March 16th, nearly a month ago, he predicted the crisis will reach Level 7.

He’ll be with us again tonight at 7pm EST, and we’ll ask what’s ahead.

In the meantime, you’ll find it both interesting and worth your time to read Gundersen’s postings about the crisis on the Fairewinds Associates website. Just click on this link:

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February 17th, 2011
02:48 PM ET

Your Congress at work: Lawmaker calls TSA a 'failure... totally out of control'

Washington (CNN) – Here's something to think about the next time you're waiting in the airport security line: According the Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida, the people who are supposed to keep air travelers safe – aren't.

Mica ought to know: He's now the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. On the House floor this morning he begged members of Congress to get classified briefings on the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA.

"The failure of TSA puts this nation at risk," said Mica. He cited GAO reports on what he called the "total failure" of its behavior-recognition program, which was supposed to help security personnel spot suspicious behaviors among travelers.

"Get the classified briefing on the failure of the advanced technology," Mica continued. "They went out and bought a half a billion dollars worth of equipment, spent another half a billion to install it and the failure is dramatic. You can read that as members of Congress."

As for the TSA's controversial pat-downs of travelers, Mica says that program's a failure, too. "Everybody's getting pat downs. You think that's helpful? I implore members to get a classified briefing and see, again, the results of that failure."

Since you probably don't have the security clearances necessary to read the classified reports Mica talked about, let's consider the TSA bureaucracy.

Mica says it has "mushroomed" since it was founded after 9/11: "TSA has more employees than the Department of State, the Department of Education, and Labor, and Housing and Urban Development combined!"

He continued, "If you think the bureaucracy in Washington is bad, there are 9,233 non-screener employees at the airports across the country. There are only 400 airports in the program. That's 20 bureaucrats per airport, on average."

Mica's bottom line: "This agency is totally out of control." He intended to ask the House to approve cuts to TSA's budget but withdrew his request this morning, admitting his cuts "were not as surgical as they probably need to be."

But he promised to work with other members of Congress to "improve" TSA's mission.

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February 17th, 2011
02:41 PM ET

Your Congress at work: Lawmakers on contraception for wild horses

Washington (CNN) – The issue of dragging wild horses away was the topic of a House floor debate Wednesday. Wild horses and burros, actually.

Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton says the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) needs to saddle-up and find a better way to manage the horses and burros that graze public lands. The holding pens they're put in are expensive and Burton wants to cut $2 million from the "Management of Lands and Resources" account of BLM.

"What I want to do is I want to send a message," said Burton, R-Indiana. "It costs about 25-hundred dollars per horse to keep them in these pens," Burton said. "There are other ways to handle this problem."

Everyone on Capitol Hill seems to agree that there are too many of them, wild horses that is (and burros). How to stop the horses (and burros) from over-breeding is the question, and the reason they wind up in holding pens.

Rep. James Moran, D-Virginia, who also supports Burton's proposal, complained, "The BLM continues to use helicopters to round-up and remove wild horses from the range and place them in long-term holding facilities. There are about 40,600 horses in these pens, currently."

Moran called for using contraception instead of pens, BLM's current approach. He said the pens are "enormously wasteful and misguided."

"Instead of capturing wild horses and holding them in pens for life, BLM already should have fully implemented a less-costly, preventative and more humane option: That of controlling herd size through contraception," Moran said.

Moran, citing a study by the U.S. Geological Survey, said the BLM could save up to eight million dollars a year with "the implementation of herd reduction through birth control."

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, spoke in support of the cut and noted, "The wild horse population is not native to North America and can double every four years. If horses are not removed from the range it can cause degradation and reduce foliage for wildlife and livestock."

But Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, rose in opposition, saying she's ridden BLM wild horses and is not carried away by the arguments for the budget cut.

"It is this Congress that has caused the problems by saying we cannot slaughter horses. Yet, we're not supposed to keep them in pens. We're supposed to let them overgraze the West," Lummis said. "When the gentlepeople east of the Mississippi will take these excess horses into their back yards, I will support this amendment."

Burton's cut passed the House on a voice vote.

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November 2nd, 2010
08:26 PM ET

DeMint wins in ‘earthquake election’

(CNN) – During his victory speech tonight, newly re-elected South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint declared, "I can almost feel the ground shaking here because there's an earthquake election going on all over this country."

DeMint, an conservative Republican who has supported Tea Party candidates across the country, told supporters, "The biggest tea party to date is today."

"One of the greatest things in the last few years," a jubilant DeMint told supporters in Greenville, "is to see the power slip out of the hands of the Washington establishment into the hands of rank-and-file Americans who didn't think they had any power – but they are scaring the politicians to death."

He also predicted the best is yet to come: "Going into 2012, we can make what happened tonight look small."

As for what's ahead before then, DeMint said, "They tell me they want people who can work together in Washington. I tell you this: I'm ready. I'm ready. Anyone whose guide is the constitution and whose goal is limited government, I'm ready to work with them today. But I'm not going to compromise with anyone who doesn't believe in that."

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September 23rd, 2010
02:50 PM ET

Secretary Gates: 'Conflict sells'

Defense Secretary Robet Gates says he hasn't read Bob Woodward's new book about the Obama administration, adding: "I think I was probably the last person he spoke to." Gates told reporters today he thinks he was also the last person Woodward spoke to with his previous book at the end of the Bush administration.

Articles about Woodward's new book, "Obama's Wars," say it will reveal the administration was deeply divided over U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Today, Gates told reporters there are three points he wants to make: "The first is: Conflict sells."

Gates continued, "The second: The relationship among senior officials in this administration is as harmonious as any I've experienced…in my time in government."

His third point: "I believe this very strongly: Presidents are always well served when there is a vigorous and spirited debate over important issues."

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September 13th, 2010
04:40 PM ET

'We're in a political silly season right now'

It’s official…

“We’re in a political silly season right now.”

That isn’t our opinion. That’s what President Obama told a group of northern Virginia residents this afternoon.

During his campaign-style, stop in a neighborhood back yard, the president also told the group: “Ultimately, when I get out of Washington and I start talking to families like yours, what I’m struck by is not how divided the country is. What I’m struck by is basically how people have common values, common concerns and common hopes.”

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July 2nd, 2010
02:16 PM ET

Home and Away: Independence Day

It’s our job to watch people and politics. Tuesday morning, General David Petraeus was just down the street from us, testifying on Capitol Hill. Today, he arrived in Afghanistan, beginning his new duty as commander of U.S. forces. Last night, also on Capitol Hill, the House debated and passed bill to keep funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Afghanistan produced another important story this week, one that hits closer to home shouldn’t be overlooked: The June death toll for NATO-led forces reached 101 on Wednesday, the highest for any single month since the war began in 2001. Before now, the deadliest month was August, 2009, when 79 soldiers died.

As we head into the 4th of July weekend, take a few minutes to check our interactive map at our Home and Away link. Look for your hometown. We’d like to invite you to leave a tribute to the young men and women who once were your neighbors and died fighting for freedom.

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June 11th, 2010
12:53 PM ET

Home & Away: Mississippi

JKUSA is live from the Gulf all this week. Today John is interviewing Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

As part of our ongoing commitment to remember the Americans who died in the war on terror, all week we’ve been posting the names of U.S. casualties who lived near the places John is visiting. If you scroll down, you’ll find earlier postings with the names of men and women from the Florida Panhandle, South Alabama and Southeast Louisiana.

Today we’re posting the names of the U.S. troops from Southern Mississippi who’ve given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The casualties in Iraq: 2nd Lt. Robert Charles Oneto-Sikorski of Bay St. Louis; Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Roosevelt Polk, Chief Petty Officer Joel Egan Baldwin and Sgt. Lerando Junior Brown of Gulfport; Lance Cpl. Roger W. Deeds and Spc. Bryan Edward Barron of Biloxi; Sgt. 1st Class Sean Michael Cooley of Ocean Springs; Sgt. Terrance Delan Lee Jr. of Moss Point; Sgt. 1st Class Clint Daniel Ferrin of Picayune; Staff Sgt. Jerry Clark Burge Jr. and Staff Sgt. Larry Richard Arnold Sr. of Carriere; 1st Lt. Therrel Shane Childers and Sgt. Daniel Ryan Varnado of Saucier.

Sgt. Donnie Leo Ford Levens of Long Beach died in Afghanistan.

Take a moment to look up their stories – and add your own tributes - at our Home and Away link.

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June 10th, 2010
01:44 PM ET

Home & Away: Port Fourchon, Louisiana

JKUSA is live from the Gulf all this week. Today John is in Port Fourchon, a coastal town about 100 miles south of New Orleans. It’s a fishing town and right now, there’s no fishing.

The oil spill is the today’s dominant story but there’s other important news, especially for military families: Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told reporters today that U.S.-led operations against the Taliban in southern

Afghanistan will happen "more slowly than we had originally anticipated." "It will take a number of months," said McChrystal. He also warned that U.S. casualties are likely to rise.

As John makes his way through along the Gulf, we’re posting the names of U.S. casualties who lived near the places he visits – local men and women who’ve given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 14 names from southeast Louisiana:

The casualties in Iraq: 1st Sgt. Michael Joseph Bordelon of Morgan City; Staff Sgt. Ronnie Lee Sanders of Thibodaux; Sgt. Bradley John Bergeron and Staff Sgt. Christopher James Babin from Houma; Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Joseph Comeaux of Raceland; Staff Sgt. Danny Paul Dupre of Lockport; Sgt. Warren Anthony Murphy, Sgt. Michael Scott Evans II and Senior Airman Omar James McKnight of Marrero; Sgt. Matthew Joseph Vosbein and Sgt. 1st Class Peter James Hahn of Metairie.

Those who died in Afghanistan are: Chief Warrant Officer Milton Eric Suggs of Lockport; Sgt. Maj. Barbaralien Banks of Harvey and Pfc. Brian Russell Bates Jr. of Gretna.

Take a moment to look up their stories – and add your own tributes - at our Home and Away link.

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June 8th, 2010
05:26 PM ET

Home & Away: Dauphin Island, Alabama

The United States passed a grim milestone today: More than 1,000 U.S. troops have now been killed in Afghanistan.

It probably won’t get much attention, since just about everyone is focused on the Gulf oil spill – including us.

JKUSA is live from the Gulf all this week. Today John is on Alabama’s Dauphin Island, which is about 40 miles from Mobile.

The Alabama coast isn’t only feeling the effects of the oil spill. People there also remember Katrina and the other destructive Hurricanes of the last decade.

But in light of today’s news, we must not forget the Mobile families who’ve lost loved ones during the war in Iraq: Cpl. Christopher Edward Mason, Lance Cpl. Bradley Michael Faircloth, Spc. Steven Ray Givens, Pfc. Howard Johnson II, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Philip Andrew Johnson Jr. and 1st Sgt. Charles M King.

Lt. Col. Mark Edward Stratton II, from Foley, Alabama and died in Afghanistan.

Take a moment to look up their stories – and add your own tributes - at our Home and Away link.

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