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Obama pledges US will cure cancer ‘once and for all’ — with Joe Biden leading the way

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday pledged to undertake a historic push to develop a cure for cancer, tapping Vice President Joe Biden to lead the effort.

Obama, in the last State of the Union address of his presidency, said America must use its spirit of innovation to help tackle the challenge of cancer.

“For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” Obama said.

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As Biden smiled from his seat behind the president, Obama said he would put the vice president in charge of “mission control” for the effort.

Biden, who lost his 46-year old son to brain cancer last year, received a standing ovation from lawmakers when Obama made the announcement.

Following his son’s death, Biden said he would not run for president in 2016, but he promised he would focus his remaining time in office on working on a “moon shot” to end cancer.

In a blog post released during the State of the Union address, Biden said the White House would focus on increasing public and private resources to fight the disease and to improve information sharing among researchers and medical professionals.

“It’s personal for me,” Biden said, regarding the push.

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He will travel on Friday to the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine to speak with physicians and next week he will meet with experts at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to discuss the initiative.

The cancer initiative will build upon the $2 billion increase in funding approved for the National Institutes of Health last year, White House chief economist Jason Furman told reporters ahead of Obama speech.

Earlier this month, private companies and academic cancer centers joined together to launch their own mission to fight cancer. The Cancer Moonshot 2020 program is aimed at developing a vaccine-based immunotherapy to combat cancer by the end of the decade.

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Companies involved include Celgene Corp, Amgen Inc and NantKwest Inc.

In his speech, Obama also stressed that the United States should continue to help fight against disease in African countries and around the world.

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“Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria,” Obama said, noting that he would push Congress to fund this effort in 2016.

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker)

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Maddow destroys ‘bad faith’ complaints about impeachment from Republican Trump supporters

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Friday blasted "bad faith" arguments from Republicans about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Maddow recounted the process complaints by Republicans -- each of which has disappeared.

"After going through all of that, they now have unveiled a new objection as to why President Trump cannot actually be subject to this impeachment proceeding, a new noble stand they're taking for fairness and the American way -- they have rolled it out with our friends at the Fox News channel," Maddow said.

She played a clip of former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News.

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Everyone is baffled by Trump’s rambling rant about flushing toilets ’10 times, 15 times’

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Another day, another truly baffling series of words coming from President Donald Trump’s mouth.

Speaking at a White House meeting on Friday about small business and regulation, Trump went on one of his trademark riffs, touching on a number of subjects with the clarity of a muddy puddle. He seemed to be referring to a series of complaints that have been raised over the years about various consumer product regulations (a favorite topic of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) but without making a coherent point about any of them.

Read the whole stream of consciousness rant to get a sense of what it was like:

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Adam Schiff pushes Pence to declassify aide’s secret information — implying it might be embarrassing or illegal

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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter on Friday to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to declassify the entirety of his Sept. 18 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky for use in the impeachment inquiry.

Though the vice president’s office, along with the rest of the administration, has stonewalled the impeachment inquiry’s requests for documents, Schiff’s committee obtained information about the Sept. 18 call through Jennifer Williams, a Pence aide who has already testified. Initially, Schiff explained, Williams testified about Pence’s call and did not assert that any part of it was classified. When she testified publicly, however, she said Pence’s office had since determined that the call was classified. She later sent the committee a “supplemental submission” after reviewing “materials” that refreshed her memory about the call — and it’s that supplemental submission that Schiff would like to see declassified.

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