President Barack Obama's national security adviser, in a sweeping review of global human rights practices, singled out China and Russia for criticism on Wednesday over how they treat their citizens. The adviser, Susan Rice, specifically cited the detention in China of Xu Zhiyong, a legal scholar and rights defender, and Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who was jailed in 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges for organizing a petition urging the overthrow of one-party rule. This is short-sighted," Rice said in remarks to the "Human Rights First Annual Summit." "When courts imprison political dissidents who merely urge respect for China's own laws, no one in China, including Americans doing business there, can feel secure," she said.
By Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives said on Wednesday they are concerned about Iran's ability to continue enriching uranium under the interim agreement on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, an issue they are likely to press as global powers attempt to reach a final agreement. The concerns showed that House lawmakers could be willing to push for a new sanctions package next year that would define what Congress would be willing to accept in a final deal with Iran. The six-month interim deal made by the United States, five other world powers and Iran in Geneva last month gives International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors greater access to Iran's nuclear facilities and requires the Islamic Republic to halt its enrichment of higher grade uranium. But it allows Iran to continue enriching uranium up to 5 percent purity for generating nuclear power.
By Caren Bohan and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the Obamacare website performing better, congressional Republicans on Wednesday returned to their broader attack on President Barack Obama's healthcare law, warning that it would harm the quality of medical care and drive up costs. They used hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives to highlight what they say are flaws in the 2010 Affordable Care Act that go beyond the potentially transitory issues of the website, HealthCare.gov, and cancellations of several million insurance policies that did not meet the law's standards. Repeating predictions they have been making since the law was being debated in Congress in 2009, Republicans said it would end up restricting consumers' choices of doctors and would ultimately saddle families and businesses with higher premiums. "The Affordable Care Act's fundamental problems can't be fixed with better marketing.
The United States sees value in getting to know Islamist militias in Syria, in order to better understand their intentions in the civil war there and their possible links with al Qaeda, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not say directly whether the United States is holding face-to-face talks with Islamist rebel groups. "So I think that finding that out, however we do so, is worth the effort." The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the United States and other countries have held direct discussions with certain Islamist groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil conflict. Also on Wednesday, a commander of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah who fought in Syria was shot dead outside his home in Lebanon.
By Elvina Nawaguna WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. lawmaker critical of Wall Street is pushing the nation's six largest banks to voluntarily disclose their donations to think tanks, saying that not doing so threatens the credibility and research of these policy groups. In a letter to JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts asked the banks to be transparent in their financial dealings with think tanks so the public could more carefully evaluate their work. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America declined to comment on the issue.