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Obama to tour flood-battered areas of Louisiana after FEMA draws praise for recovery work

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President Barack Obama will visit Louisiana on Tuesday to assess flood damage there, days after he was criticized for not cutting short his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to view the devastation in the Gulf Coast state.

Obama, who returned on Sunday from his annual August vacation on the Massachusetts island, is expected to tour areas in the state capital, Baton Rouge, hit by record flooding and to meet with Louisiana officials to discuss recovery efforts.

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The White House on Monday defended the president’s decision not to visit the state sooner, saying Obama was more focused on the federal response to the crisis than securing photo opportunities.

“There’s an all too common temptation to focus on the politics and to focus on the optics,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a news briefing. “But the survivors of the flooding in Louisiana are not well served by a political discussion, they’re well served by a competent, effective, strong, coordinated government response.”

The deluge that dumped more than 2-1/2 feet of rain on parts of Louisiana has been described as the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The floods have killed at least 13 people and damaged more than 60,000 homes.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump toured the state on Friday. He said Obama should have taken time from his break to travel to Louisiana.

On social media, some Louisiana residents and others urged Obama to visit, and Baton Rouge’s newspaper, The Advocate, voiced a similar view.

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Obama received updates on the flooding during his vacation from U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, who have both visited Louisiana.

The president’s travel requires a huge retinue of Secret Service agents and assistance from local and state law enforcement officials, so the White House usually waits to visit disaster zones to avoid tying up police and emergency resources needed elsewhere.

Despite the criticism about the timing of Obama’s visit, Earnest said FEMA had received bipartisan praise for its work in the aftermath of the flooding, unlike the criticism the agency faced following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 under then-President George W. Bush.

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“I think the effectiveness of the response thus far speaks for itself,” Earnest said. “And I think frankly, it’s the most effective way to answer any of the politically motivated criticism that the president has faced.”

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Lindsey Graham says Obama officials are ‘good candidates for jail’ as he wraps up GOP conspiracy hearing

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) held the Judiciary Committee hearing on the latest Republican conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama illegally used the FISA court to spy on then-candidate Donald Trump.

During his testimony Wednesday, Graham got Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to admit that in Aug. 2017 "there was no there there" about Russian collusion.

"I believe at the time, senator, and I still believe it was the right decision under the circumstances," Rosenstein said. "I think it's important to establish that an independent investigation found that the Russians sought to interfere in the election and that no Americans conspired with them."

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WATCH: White man head-butts and spits on black man for honking horn — then calls cops on him

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A black Texas man was viciously attacked in a racially motivated road rage incident.

DeVonta Brown stopped to buy coffee at a McDonald's drive-through in McKinney on his way to work Monday when the driver of a truck drove the wrong way to cut him off, and Brown said he screamed racial slurs at him for honking, reported WFAA-TV.

"You could see it in his eyes," said Brown, who recorded the confrontation on his cell phone. "You could see the hate in his eyes."

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Deputy gets called out after sporting ‘extremist’ symbols at Black Lives Matter protest – and then gets put on leave

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A California sheriff's deputy who was working the scene of a protest is under investigation for wearing a patch with symbols depicting what the Orange County Sheriff's Office describes as "extremist groups."

Image that surfaced online this Wednesday show a deputy wearing a patch with the symbols of the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, which are known to be right-wing anti-government militias, Voice of OC reports.

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