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As gridlock in Congress continues, Obama tells Cabinet to find areas open to executive action

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama told his Cabinet on Tuesday to look for areas where he might be able to govern by executive action given gridlock in Congress that is hampering his agenda.

In a White House meeting, Obama brought together the top officials in his government a day after conceding that a deadlocked Congress will prompt him to act on his own authority where he can on an immigration overhaul.

Obama said he wants to work with Congress where possible, “but if Congress is unable to do it,” then he said his Cabinet officials and agency heads should look for areas where executive actions can “show some real progress.”

“The people who sent us here, they just don’t feel as if anybody is fighting for them or working them. We’re not always going to be able to get things through Congress … but we sure as heck can make sure that the folks back home know that we are pushing their agenda and that we’re working hard on their behalf,” Obama said.

Obama’s comments amounted to a recognition he is unlikely to get substantial legislation through Congress this year ahead of congressional elections in November elections.

Republicans are in no mood to compromise ahead of elections in which they could take control of the Senate from the Democrats and build on their majority in the House of Representatives.

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Obama on Monday said House Speaker John Boehner had told him last week the House would not vote on immigration legislation this year.

Obama, who has pushed for the immigration overhaul, said his advisers would give recommendations to him by the end of the summer on what he can do administratively on the issue. The president this year has raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers and taken other steps through executive order, but he is limited on how far he can go without actual legislation.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Paul Simao)

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New details revealed in the bizarre story of Jerry Falwell Jr, a pool boy and ‘compromising photographs’

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The New York Times has put together a lengthy report about the utterly bizarre circumstances surrounding Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen, a former pool boy, and purportedly "compromising photographs."

The story begins in 2012 when Falwell and his wife enjoyed a stay at the Fontainebleau, a Florida luxury resort known for topless sunbathing and a massive underground nightclub described by one travel guide as "30,000 square feet of unadulterated fun."

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Revealing gruesome new details of Khashoggi murder, UN report says ‘inconceivable’ crown prince not involved

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In a thorough and damning report on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi released Wednesday, United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard found that Khashoggi was "the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing" that was likely orchestrated by top officials in the Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources, and finances," Callamard wrote. "Every expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the crown prince being aware, at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr. Khashoggi, was being launched."

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Critics lament as 126 House Democrats join forces with GOP to hand Trump ‘terrifying’ mass domestic spying powers

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Privacy advocates and civil liberties defenders are expressing outrage after the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night voted down a bipartisan amendment designed to end, as one group put it, the U.S. government's "most egregious mass surveillance practices" first revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In a final vote of 253-175, it was 126 Democrats who joined with 127 Republicans to vote against an amendment introduced by Rep Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that would have closed loopholes in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that critics charge has allowed the NSA to abuse warrantless surveillance capabilities and target the emails, text messages, and internet activity of U.S. citizens and residents. See the full roll call here.

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