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Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved. Tuesday, July 07, 2015
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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is taking new steps to make solar energy more accessible to low-income Americans.

While solar power has become an increasingly cost-efficient alternative to traditional source of energy in recent years, the White House says solar power has remained largely out of reach for many low-income Americans who would stand to benefit the most from the cost-savings.

So, through a series of executive actions, the administration is upping a previously set goal threefold to make solar energy available to more low-income Americans by 2020 and is also setting up a program to help low-income households and renters find out how to go solar, while also making it easier to get a loan to invest in the necessary panels.

On a call with reporters, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) applauded the administration’s efforts as a win-win for the environment and for low-income Americans.

“I cannot tell you the number of calls I get in my office from constituents who have to make choices about which bills they’ll pay each month, and those choices can mean having their electricity cut off,” Cummings said. “Solar energy not only serves planet by reducing pollution and battling climate change, it also serves people by lowering their energy bills.”

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly one month ago, President Barack Obama admitted the United States did not “yet have a complete strategy” to defeat the Islamic State.

On Monday, after meeting with his top military brass and senior administration officials in a rare visit to the Pentagon, the president outlined a strategy, step-by-step, that he believes will be a winning approach over time.

The president did not call for more bombs or more troops, but instead announced a shifting focus to counter ISIL’s public relations machine while training local forces to sustain progress made on the ground there.

“There's a cause, a coalition that's united countries across the globe, some 60 nations including Arab partners,” Obama said, flanked by his top military advisers at the Pentagon briefing room. “Our comprehensive strategy against ISIL is harnessing all elements of American power across our government — military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic development, and perhaps most importantly the power of our values.”

While the vast majority of the coalition's airstrikes have focused on targets in Iraq, Obama also signaled a growing emphasis on targets in Syria.

"Indeed, we're intensifying our efforts against ISIL's base in Syria," he said. "Our airstrikes will continue to target the oil and gas facilities that fund so much of their operations.”

Although the president exuded confidence in the revised blueprint, he warned that victory will not come quickly and will require the collaboration of opposition forces that have sometimes been hesitant to join fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL.

“This will not be quick. This is a long-term campaign. ISIL is opportunistic, and it is nimble,” he said. “It will take time to root them out and doing so must be the job of local forces on the ground, with training and air support from our coalition.”

Obama asserted that ISIS is “surrounded by countries and communities committed to its destruction” but overcoming the Islamic State’s grip on power will require more than a military effort.

“In short, ISIL's recent losses in both Syria and Iraq prove that ISIL can and will be defeated,” Obama said.

“Our strategy recognizes that no amount of military force will end the terror that is ISIL unless it's matched by a broader effort, political and economic, that addresses the underlying conditions that have allowed ISIL to gain traction,” he added. “They have filled a void and we have to make sure that, as we push them out, that void is filled.”

Last month, the president conceded that the administration’s strategy fell short of one required to defeat ISIS, but he promised his military advisors were working on additional options for him to review.

"We don't yet have a complete strategy," Obama said June 8 at the G7 summit of world leaders in Germany. "The details of that are not yet worked out."

As he concluded his remarks at the Pentagon Monday, Obama said there are “no current plans” to send additional combat forces into the region, although that issue is not one that the president discussed with his military and national security advisers. Nevertheless, he left the option on the table, telling reporters he would "do whatever it takes" to defend the United States of America.


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U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hold a press conference at the Pentagon, July 6, 2015. (DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett)(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday that the large number of airstrikes north of Raqqa over the July 4th weekend were designed to prevent ISIS from attacking Syrian Kurdish forces moving near the city.  

Carter made the comments at an on-camera briefing at the Pentagon with visiting French Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian.

“We are doing more in Syria from the air. I think you saw some of that in recent days. And the opportunity to do that effectively is provided in the case of the last few days by the effective action on the ground of Kurdish forces, which gives us the opportunity to support them tactically,” he said.

Carter explained that the airstrikes were to “limit ISIL's freedom of movement and ability to counter those capable Kurdish forces.”

He spoke also of the effectiveness of the Kurdish forces that are currently about 30 miles north Raqqa,  which is ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria.

Carter described the airstrikes as “tactical opportunities” aiming at ISIS’s freedom of movement and “its ability to counter the advances of the YPG."

He added, “When there are effective local forces on the ground that we can support and enable so that they can take territory, hold territory and make sure that good governance comes in behind it.” “So we are looking for those opportunities and trying to create those opportunities in Syria. And that -- but it's the success on the ground that occurs that explains the uptick over the last few days.”

The Kurds “nominate” targets “we validate those targets, including validating that there won't be damage to innocent civilians associated with strike, and then we take the strike.”

Le Drian said that for now the French will continue to conduct airstrikes only in Iraq where they have stopped ISIS advances. He said coalition airstrikes will also continue to target ISIS leaders in airstrikes if needed, including Omar al Baghdadi. “If we had an opportunity to go after Baghdadi, that opportunity presented itself and we looked for the opportunity, we would certainly take it,” said Carter.

Le Drian also said the Greece referendum would not impact that country’s participation in NATO, saying “It would be a very bad analysis to think that the vote in Greece is against NATO. It was never mentioned on either side.”  

He also noted Greece’s strong participation in the alliance and said the referendum was “not at all a vote against the alliance or the West. They have refused financial proposals that have been given to them, discussions to restart. It is not a vote to get out of Europe nor to get out of Europe for political affirmation, and there will be new discussions.”

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Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the immigration battle among presidential candidates heats up, the attacks are getting personal.

Donald Trump retweeted an offensive comment about Jeb Bush’s wife, Columba, who came to this country legally from Mexico.

"@RobHeilbron: @realDonaldTrump #JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife."

That tweet was later deleted, but still able to be seen on the cached version of the page.

A press aide for the Bush campaign responded by saying, “It’s not surprising Donald Trump deleted his offensive tweet. As Governor Bush has said, Trump’s comments on immigrants were wholly inappropriate and not reflective of the Republican Party’s views."

The issue surged into the news cycle last week after a woman was killed in San Francisco by a man who was an undocumented immigrant. Francisco Sanchez, a convicted felon, had been deported five times, according to U.S. immigration officials and questions still abound over how we was able to roam free.

Francisco Sanchez said in an exclusive jailhouse interview with ABC News station KGO-TV in San Francisco that he was wandering on Pier 14 after taking sleeping pills he found in a dumpster.

He told KGO-TV that he saw a T-shirt and when he picked it up there was a gun was wrapped in it, and it went off.

"Then suddenly I heard that boom boom, three times," Sanchez said.

He said he knew San Francisco was a sanctuary city where he would not be pursued by immigration officials.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had said in a statement that Sanchez was turned over to the San Francisco Police Department this past March on an outstanding drug warrant and that the department requested that police notify ICE prior to his release so ICE officers could make arrangements to take custody.

Trump used the issue as a springboard to disseminate his own views on immigration, calling for a wall along the border and increased border security.

This all comes in the wake of his controversial remarks over Hispanic immigrants, saying, “When Mexico sends its people. ... They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Over the July 4th weekend, Bush responded to Trump’s comments, saying his comments stuck a chord personally, adding “He's doing this to inflame and incite and to draw attention which seems to be his organizing principle of his campaign. And he doesn't represent the Republican party or his values.”

ABC News has reached out to Trump's campaign for comment.

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Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- President Obama will address the 106th NAACP Annual Convention in Philadelphia later this month.

The president will speak on Tuesday, July 14 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the organization announced on Monday.

It will be the second time that Obama will address the NAACP’s National Convention while serving as president.

“We are honored to welcome President Obama back to our NAACP national convention,” said NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock in a release announcing the speech. “Our members are looking forward to President Obama delivering a powerful message that reinforces our commitment to being champions for civil and human rights in the 21st century.”

This year’s convention runs from July 11 to July 15 under the theme “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice,” and will focus on building a broad based agenda around voting rights, criminal justice reform, health equity, economic opportunity and education equality ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said he didn’t believe that his fellow 2016 contender Donald Trump “understands the challenge” of strengthening the U.S.-Mexico border, adding he was “offended” when Trump labeled Mexicans “rapists” during a speech last month.

“The fact is that I’ve said very clearly that Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party,” Perry, the former governor of Texas, said Sunday on ABC News' This Week. “I was offended by his remarks.”

Trump, a billionaire businessman who is also a Republican, lost business partners and has endured criticism from fellow candidates after he said in his presidential announcement speech last month that Mexico was not sending “their best” people to the United States.

“They are bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they are rapists, and some are good people,” he said.

Perry said his 14 years leading Texas, which has a long border with Mexico, better prepared him to address immigration and border control.

“To paint with that broad a brush that Donald Trump did, is, I mean-- He's going to have to defend those remarks,” Perry said. “I never will. And I will stand up and say that those are offensive, which they were.”


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Responding to Perry’s comments, Trump tweeted Sunday that Perry “needs a new pair of glasses” -- a hit on Perry’s relatively new, black-rimmed eyeglasses.

“Rick Perry failed at the border,” Trump wrote. “Now he is critical of me. He needs a new pair of glasses to see the crimes committed by illegal immigrants.”

Perry also distanced himself from his criticism during his 2012 presidential campaign of the repeal of the “Don't Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented gay people from openly serving in the military.

“You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,” Perry said in a 2011 ad.

He suggested Sunday that, if elected president, he would not bring back “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” saying “the horse is out of the barn.”

“I have no reason to think that that’s going to be able to be done,” he said.


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Photo by Hasan Tosun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(VIENNA) -- Though progress has been made in recent days, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5 1 countries "could go either way."

Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met multiple times on Sunday, with Kerry telling reporters that it is "time to see whether or not we can close an agreement." On Saturday, experts reached an agreement on lifting sanctions against Iran, but that details still remained to be approved by the foreign ministers.

With a new deadline set for Tuesday, Kerry said he wouldn't settle for a bad deal. "If there's absolutely intransigence...we're prepared to walk away," he said Sunday.

Though a deal is closer than it had been, Kerry acknowledged that "we're not where we need to be."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As the deadline to reach a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program rapidly approaches, Sen. Tom Cotton said the threat of military action should "remain an option" to ensure a strong deal.

"It's never the preferred choice, but military force does have to remain an option if our diplomacy is going to be credible," Cotton, R-Ark., told ABC's George Stephanopoulos Sunday on This Week. "All of our allies in the region wish we would take a more forceful position and keep that military option on the table because it would result in a better deal."

The freshman senator is one of the most vocal opponents of the current state of negotiations. He cast the lone dissenting vote against a bipartisan Senate bill in May that granted a 30-day Congressional review period for any deal, saying the bill would not limit President Obama enough.

He also wrote an open letter, co-signed by 46 Republican senators, directly to Iran's Ayatollah in March saying that the deal might not hold up under future administrations.

On This Week, Cotton also responded to a video from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif posted Friday that expressed optimism about the state of negotiations.

"That video that Javad Zarif, their foreign minister, posted over the weekend with his smug, condescending tone, shows just how far down the path we've gone towards Iran's position," Cotton said.

"Iran should have faced a simple choice. They dismantle their nuclear program entirely or they face economic devastation and military destruction of their nuclear facilities," he said. "Because as that video shows, they think they're negotiating from a position of strength, that they hold all the cards."

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the co-sponsor of the bill giving a Congressional vote on the deal, agreed that the objective of the negotiations should be preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state, but said he still believes that a strong agreement is possible.

"All of that information will be made available to Congress so that we can properly evaluate and decide what action, if any, would be appropriate for us to take," Cardin said on This Week.

Cardin also outlined what he considers to be critical terms for a strong agreement, including full inspections and a historical look at Iran's nuclear development in order to properly leverage sanctions. But Cotton said those goals were not being met by the current talks.

"If we had anytime, anywhere inspections, if there was no sanctions relief until there was long-term demonstrable performance on Iran's part, if they fully answered all the past work they've done to weaponize their nuclear program, then that might be a better deal, but that's not the deal we're going to reach," Cotton said.

Negotiations continued today in Vienna, where after his third meeting of the day, Secretary of State John Kerry said the outcome of the talks is not yet clear.

"We are not yet where we need to be on several of the most difficult issues," he said. "And the truth is that while I completely agree with Foreign Minister Zarif that we have never been closer, at this point, this negotiation could go either way."


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The White House(WASHINGTON) -- On the Fourth of July, President Obama reminded thousands of military families celebrating the holiday in his backyard that American freedom comes at a cost.

"Freedom is not free. It’s paid by all the folks who are here today and all the folks who are around the world," the president said Saturday at an Independence Day party on the White House South Lawn.

"Without you, we could not enjoy the incredible blessings that we do in this greatest country on Earth," Obama said, just moments before a pyrotechnics display exploded over the National Mall. "Michelle and I, Malia, Sasha -- we could not be more privileged to have gotten to know so many of you, and to know all the sacrifices that you make on our behalf each and every day."

According to the White House, the first family watched the fireworks from the South Portico.

The families -- who had originally been invited to a barbecue earlier in the day that was cancelled because of rain -- also enjoyed a concert by pop singer Bruno Mars, sponsored by the USO.

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iStock/Thinkstock(GORHAM, N.H.) -- At the Fourth of July parade Hillary Clinton marched in Saturday in Gorham, New Hampshire, reporters following the candidate were kept -- and at moments, dragged -- behind an actual moving rope line.

The rope, which two Clinton staffers held on to on either side, was meant to give Clinton space as she walked down the parade route, but photos of reporters being dragged behind the rope as she marched have gone viral on Twitter.

The New Hampshire GOP released a statement critiquing Clinton, saying her use of the rope "insults the traditions of our First-in-the-Nation primary" and touted the Republican presidential candidates for marching in parades without "obstruction from their staff."

Clinton's campaign has not responded to ABC News' request for comment regarding the use of the rope for reporters or to the GOP criticism.

Clinton, meanwhile, seemed to enjoy the parade herself, as she waved to and greeted voters -- ignoring a group of loud protesters that trailed right behind her.

"Where were you at 3 a.m. when the phone rang? Name one accomplishment! Tell us about when you were poor!" shouted one man, holding up a sign that read "BENGHAZI."

But Clinton didn't let that rattle her.

"I'm just having a good time meeting everybody," Clinton said when asked whether she had anything to say to them.

And even by the end, her sentiment hadn't changed.

"It was fabulous," she said. "I love parades, I love walking in parades, got such a great response ... a lot of enthusiasm and energy to celebrate the Fourth of July."

Following the event, Clinton made a stop at Dairy Bar, a relatively empty nearby restaurant, where she mingled with patrons. Clinton was asked by this reporter about her thoughts to the backlash against Donald Trump. But she dismissed the question in lieu of dessert.

"I'm going to sit down and have some pie," she said.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A Humans of New York photo showing what it says is a distraught young boy crying because he is gay has gone viral, with thousands of people commenting on Facebook offering advice and words of support.

“I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me,” the caption reads.

The photo seems to have grabbed the attention and pulled at the heartstrings of even Hillary Clinton, who left her own message for the child as well.

“Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing,” she wrote. “You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you – there will be lots of them.”

The comment was signed “-H,” meaning it’s actually from her.

Clinton’s Deputy Communications Director Kristina Schake tweeted a screenshot of the comment.

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama paid tribute to the men and women in the military, touched on the country’s diversity and wished the women’s soccer team luck in the World Cup final on Sunday.

The president said he is going to spend the day outdoors “grilling burgers and dogs,” celebrating Malia’s birthday and watching the fireworks with family and friends.

He also asked that all Americans remember the words of the nation’s founder.

“We are of all races, we come from all places, we practice all faiths, and believe in all sorts of different ideas,” Obama said. “But our allegiance to this declaration – this idea – is the creed that binds us together.  It’s what, out of many, makes us one. “

Read the full transcript of the president's address:


Happy Fourth of July, everybody.  Like many of you, Michelle, Sasha, Malia, and I are going to spend the day outdoors, grilling burgers and dogs, and watching the fireworks with our family and friends.  It’s also Malia’s birthday, which always makes the Fourth extra fun for us.

As always, we’ve invited some very special guests to our backyard barbecue – several hundred members of our military and their families.  On this most American of holidays, we remember that all who serve here at home and overseas, represent what today is all about.  And we remember that their families serve, too.  We are so grateful for their service and for their sacrifice.

We remember as well that this is the day when, 239 years ago, our founding patriots declared our independence, proclaiming that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

A couple of centuries later, we have made ourselves into a big, bold, dynamic, and diverse country.  We are of all races, we come from all places, we practice all faiths, and believe in all sorts of different ideas.  But our allegiance to this declaration – this idea – is the creed that binds us together.  It’s what, out of many, makes us one.  

And it’s been the work of each successive generation to keep this founding creed safe by making sure its words apply to every single American.  Folks have fought, marched, protested, even died for that endeavor, proving that as Americans, our destiny is not written for us, but by us.

We honor those heroes today.  We honor everyone who continually strives to make this country a better, stronger, more inclusive, and more hopeful place.  We, the people, pledge to make their task our own – to secure the promise of our founding words for our own children, and our children’s children.

And finally, what better weekend than this to cheer on Team USA – good luck to the U.S. Women’s National Team in the World Cup Final!

Thanks, everybody.  From my family to yours, have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

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US Congress(WASHINGTON) -- In this week’s Republican address, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas discussed Republicans' efforts to provide U.S. troops and intelligence professionals with the support they need to carry out their vital missions.

Hurd spoke of the importance of funding America’s military, despite claims that Senate Democrats have held the defense spending bill hostage in order to get more money for agencies that have abused their power.

“Too much is at stake right now to let our differences get in the way of our work to protect freedom," Hurd said . "America's men and women who serve our country make up the greatest force for good this world has ever known.  They deserve our unwavering support on Independence Day and every other day."

Hurd, who sits on the Committee on Homeland Security and chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Information Technology Subcommittee contends that using additional funding for “unrelated” agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency would block efforts towards improving the nation’s defense.

“I hope they’ll reconsider because too much is at stake right now to let our differences get in the way of our work to protect freedom,” he said.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello, I’m Will Hurd, and I’m proud to represent the 23rd District of Texas in Congress.  I hope you and your family are having a great Independence Day weekend.

First, I want to wish the U.S. women’s soccer team the best of luck in the World Cup Final.  We are so proud of all that you’ve accomplished together as a team.  Your grit and determination is inspiring a new generation of American athletes to dream big.

Of course, we’re fortunate to live here in the United State of America, a country where you can work hard and be anything you want to be.  Growing up in San Antonio, my parents – Mary Alice and Bob – instilled that lesson in me at an early age, along with the values of honesty and service to a greater good.

Before the people of Texas sent me to Congress, I spent nearly a decade as an undercover case officer in the CIA.  I witnessed folks struggling for freedom overseas.  And I saw firsthand why we can never take our liberty for granted.

Today we face enemies around the world that are more determined than ever.  They have no intention of giving up their pursuit of nuclear weapons, or the violence, fear, and hate they use to cling to power.  Our principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — they represent everything our enemies want to destroy.

So as we celebrate this Independence Day, let’s recommit ourselves to supporting our troops, supporting our intelligence professionals, and winning this fight.

Already this year in the U.S. House of Representatives, we’ve passed measures to provide new mental health resources to our veterans and bolster cybersecurity while protecting privacy.  And last month we passed a strong national defense bill that meets the president’s funding requests and authorizes a much-deserved pay raise for our troops.

Sadly, some members of the president’s party are trying to block this critical measure.  They think that by playing political games, they can extract more funding for unrelated federal agencies like the IRS and the EPA.  I hope they’ll reconsider because too much is at stake right now to let our differences get in the way of our work to protect freedom.  America’s men and women who serve our country make up the greatest force for good this world has ever known.  They deserve our unwavering support on Independence Day and every other day.

Thank you for listening, and God bless the United States of America.

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ABC News(HANOVER, N.H.) -- Hillary Clinton does not yet seem fazed by Bernie-mentum.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, the Democratic presidential front-runner responded to a question from a reporter about the massive crowds her challenger, Vermont Sen.Bernie Sanders, has seen at his own campaign events this week.

“We each run our own campaigns and I always knew this was going to be competitive,” Clinton said at Dairy Twirl ice cream shop in Lebanon, New Hampshire, when asked about the growing support behind Sanders and how he's seeing crowds even bigger than she is.

“I want to have a great debate in the primary and caucus around the country and that is what I am looking forward to," she added.

This past week Sanders drew the largest crowd yet of any presidential candidate this campaign cycle. An estimated 10,000 people filled an arena in Madison, Wisconsin, to hear him speak.

Clinton's comments on Friday came just after she held an organizing event at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. According to her campaign, the rally had a turnout of roughly 850 people – a measly number, perhaps, compared to what Sanders attracted this week. However, Clinton's campaign did have to move the afternoon event to a larger venue because of what they said was “increased local interest in attending.”

During her remarks at the rally, Clinton also doubled down on her own record as a progressive candidate.

"I take a back seat to no one when you look at my record of standing up and fighting for progressive values," she said in a woodsy, outdoor arena on the Ivy League's campus.


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Photo by Getty Images(VIENNA) -- The deadline passed three days ago, but the U.S. and Iran are still at it this July 4th weekend, trying to make an historic nuclear deal.  

Secretary of State John Kerry met Friday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna to try to work through unresolved issues that prevented an agreement on a nuclear deal by the June 30 deadline.

Kerry said they have a lot of work to do and said there are "some tough issues." Kerry said they will continue to work, Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday to try arrive at a conclusion.

“I think it's fair to say that both sides are working extremely hard with a great sense of purpose in a good faith effort to make progress and we are making progress,” Kerry said.

Zarif also talked of progress.

“We're all trying very hard in order to be able to move forward. And we have made some progress, there are still tough issues to discuss and to resolve but I think with political will, we will,” he said.

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