(CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is visiting Alaska National Guard troops in Kosovo, her office said Thursday.
The governor is visiting the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, an army aviation unit deployed to the area on a peacekeeping mission. "A part of Governor Palin's duties while she is in country is to inspect the troops and ascertain how the experience in Kosovo will better prepare these service members for missions within Alaska and future deployments overseas," her office said in a statement.
Two years ago, Palin visited Alaska National Guard troops in Kuwait and wounded soldiers on a U.S. base in Germany, as well as a border crossing on the Kuwait-Iraq border.
Palin's son Track, who serves in the Army, deployed to Iraq last year.
(CNN) - Jenny Sanford said Thursday that her husband Mark Sanford's political career is "not a concern of mine" and that she'd be just fine - whether or not their marriage survived.
She would not speculate whether her husband would resign as South Carolina governor.
"His career is not a concern of mine," she told reporters as she departed the family's vacation home in Sullivans Island, South Carolina. "He's going to have to worry about that. I'm worried about my family and the character of my children."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/25/art.gibbs.cnn.jpg caption="Gibbs got dunked Thursday afternoon by an enthusiastic reporter."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's the White House South Lawn, but turn the right way and ignore the looming Washington monument, and you just might think that you're in Waikiki, Hawaii.
Welcome to the first ever White House Luau for congressional members and their families. There are Tiki torches and Tiki huts. Potted palm trees and a shell shaped performance stage. And if you hear the theme music from Jaws, it's because there are two inflatable sharks swimming in the fountain pond.
Some of the tables, where an estimated crowd of 2500 people will be seated, are wrapped in grass table skirts. Pineapples, bananas and coconuts are tastefully arranged as centerpieces.
There's also a dunk tank where guests will try to sink White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, and Chief Congressional liaison Phil Schiliro with yellow softballs.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/25/art.palinpic.cnn.jpg caption="Palin is upset with a blogger who doctored a photo of herself and son Trig."]
(CNN) - A week after a high-profile uproar with comedian David Letterman over the late-night host's joke about her daughter, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is again sharply responding to the appearance of her children in the public sphere.
Palin's latest response comes after liberal Alaskan Blogger Linda Kellen Biegel doctored a photograph of the former Republican vice presidential candidate with her 1-year-old son Trig, who suffers from Down Syndrome.
Biegel, who blogs in support of the Alaska Democratic Party under the name "Celtic Diva," superimposed a picture of conservative Alaskan radio host Eddie Burke over Trig's face in an apparent effort to show how close the radio host is with the Alaskan governor.
"Recently we learned of a malicious desecration of a photo of the Governor and baby Trig that has become an iconic representation of a mother's love for a special needs child," Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapelton said in a statement provided to CNN. "The mere idea of someone doctoring the photo of a special needs baby is appalling."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House passed a measure Thursday that would set a 12-month limit on the military's use of controversial "burn pits" to dispose of potentially hazardous materials on bases overseas.
The pits, used to burn all matters of waste, have been controversial since troops complained of various health problems from inhaling fumes.
The measure, sponsored by Reps. Tim Bishop, D-New York, and Carol Shea-Porter, D-New Hampshire, would prohibit the use of the pits for burning medical and hazardous waste, including plastic bottles, during operations lasting longer than 12 months.
"We should not continue to recklessly use burn pits to dispose of hazardous waste across Iraq and Afghanistan," Bishop said in a statement. "Our troops should be free to focus on fighting the enemy without worrying how their lives may be further endangered by breathing in toxic air from their own bases."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/18/art.pelosihand0618.gi.jpg caption="Nancy Pelosi is leading a lobbying effort in the House of Representatives to garner the 218 votes necessary to pass key environmental legislation."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Democratic leaders are turning up the heat in their efforts to pass a bill aimed at curbing global warming, even enlisting former Vice President Al Gore in the lobbying efforts and getting a public show of support from President Barack Obama at the White House.
Democrats admit that they are shy of the 218 votes needed to pass the climate-change bill scheduled for a vote on Friday, and have furiously been lobbying fence-sitting members.
Gore was scheduled to visit the Capitol on Thursday to personally lobby in favor of the bill, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office called his office Wednesday night to cancel.
"It's a question of what was energy-efficient for the vice president," Pelosi said of the decision to keep Gore in Tennessee. "We were narrowing the list of the undecided and thought that perhaps on another occasion we could call upon his time to come here."
While Gore is not in Washington, his spokeswoman says he is still working the phones and contacting uncertain lawmakers to make the case for passing the Clean Energy and Security Act, which would require a 17 percent emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 and create a "cap-and-trade" system where manufacturers would buy and sell pollution credits.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama began tackling the contentious issue of immigration reform Thursday, hosting a bipartisan group of congressmen at the White House for what the administration called the "launch of a policy conversation."
The meeting, which was delayed twice as economic issues took center stage, was designed to be an "honest discussion of issues where we can identify areas of agreement, and areas where we still have work to do," according to the White House.
"I'm confident that if we enter into this (process) with the notion that this is a nation of laws that have to be observed and this is a nation of immigrants, then we're going to create a stronger nation for our children and our grandchildren," Obama said.
The president conceded, however, that "comprehensive immigration reform is difficult. We know it's a sensitive and politically volatile issue."
(Photo credit: Erika Dimmler/CNN): The annual congressional picnic at the White House had a Hawaiian flavor Thursday. Visitors were treated to a cookout with a luau theme, hula lessons — and a dunk tank featuring administration officials like chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and press secretary Robert Gibbs, whose turn gave an eager press corps a rare chance to take one-way shots at the White House spokesman. (The photo above was taken at a preview of the day's White House performance, which took place a few minutes away, at Washington's Dupont Circle)
(CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford denied allegations Thursday that he had improperly taken a taxpayer-funded trip to Argentina a year ago, roughly the time he began an affair with a woman who lived there, but said he would still reimburse the state for all expenses related to his visit to that country.
"As noted by the Department of Commerce, I attended a trade mission with the Department of Commerce last June," he said, in a statement issued by his office Thursday. "As the agenda notes, the mission was spent meeting with government and private business officials in both Brazil and Argentina. This trip was handled very professionally by the Department of Commerce, and I'm proud of their work there.
"However, while the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip, I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with. That has raised some very legitimate concerns and questions, and as such I am going to reimburse the state for the full cost of the Argentina leg of this trip."