By Andy Sullivan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several Republican governors likely to run for president have secured hundreds millions of dollars under Obamacare while working to dismantle the healthcare law, according to a Reuters review of federal spending records. Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, all staunch opponents of President Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act, have collectively applied for and won at least $352 million through grant programs set up by the law, federal records show. "Receiving federal grants that existed prior to the ACA is not the same as participating in the core elements of the ACA." The money in question stems from less controversial parts of the law that enhance public health and other nuts-and-bolts programs, rather than the insurance exchanges and expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor that have drawn fierce opposition from Republicans.
Russia and Iran's foreign ministers claimed a breakthrough early Wednesday in talks on a framework deal curtailing Tehran's nuclear programme, but the US said not all issues had been agreed yet, as discussions were suspended for the night. "One can say with relative certainty that we at the minister level have reached an agreement in principle on all key aspects of the final settlement of this issue," Russian media quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying at talks in Switzerland. This came after Russia's top diplomat and the foreign ministers of five other major powers and Iran continued working through the night as they missed a midnight (2200 GMT) deadline to agree the main outlines of what they hope will be an historic accord. The powers hope a full agreement, due to be finalised by June 30, will see Iran scale back its nuclear capability to prevent Tehran developing nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian programme.
Arkansas lawmakers passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Tuesday that critics said would allow businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians, drawing a swift demand from Wal-Mart Stores Inc for the governor to veto the bill. Arkansas followed Indiana, which passed a similar act last week. The world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart , based in Bentonville, Ark., issued a statement saying the Arkansas bill threatened to undermine "the spirit of inclusion" in the state and "does not reflect the values we proudly uphold." Signed by Doug McMillon, chief executive officer, the statement asked Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the legislation.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday vetoed a measure by Republicans in Congress that would have blocked a government labor agency's rules designed to speed up the time it takes to unionize workers. The rules would shorten the period between a union filing a petition to represent workers and an election, from the current median of 38 days to as little as 14 days. Employers would be required to share workers' names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses with unions. The National Labor Relations Board adopted the rules last year and they are set to take effect April 14.
Defense of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is expected to intensify on Tuesday with his lawyers' first full day of calling witnesses. They have contended that Tsarnaev's brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was the driving force behind the bombing and that Dzhokhar played a secondary role in it and in the fatal shooting of a police officer three days later. Their argument is intended to reduce Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's relative culpability in the jury's eyes and persuade them to sentence him to life in prison. On Monday, prosecutors wrapped up their case against Tsarnaev with testimony from the medical examiners who autopsied 23-year-old Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu and 8-year-old Martin Richard.