Political News from Yahoo

Obama mulls large-scale move on immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the Mexican border, White House officials are making plans to act before November's elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration.


Burundi party's 'relentless' intimdation ahead of polls: Amnesty

Burundi's ruling party is carrying out a "relentless campaign of intimidation" against opposition and critics, ahead of presidential elections next year, Amnesty International said Tuesday. "The government's clampdown on free expression and peaceful assembly has serious implications for human rights ahead of next year's elections," said Amnesty researcher Tom Gibson. The small nation in Africa's Great Lakes region emerged in 2006 from 13 years of brutal civil war and its political climate remains fractious ahead of presidential polls due in June 2015.


US, major EU states call for Libya ceasefire, UN role

Top US and European leaders on Monday called for a ceasefire in Libya and for the United Nations to take on a major role in helping to stop the spiralling violence and lawlessness. The appeal came after a conference call between US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and the prime ministers of Britain and Italy, David Cameron and Matteo Renzi, a German government statement said. They called on the United Nations "to play an essential role in facilitating the political process" in order to restore stability in Libya.


U.S. senator to propose strong curbs on NSA phone data collection

A new Senate proposal to curb the government's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records and increase transparency about the program has White House backing and may get more traction with critics who have dismissed other bills as too weak. Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will introduce the legislation on Tuesday. Because it does more to clamp down on the data collection exposed last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, Leahy's bill was expected to be more attractive to privacy advocates than a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May. Many American technology companies have also been clamoring for changes after seeing their international business suffer as foreign governments worry they might collect data and hand it over to U.S. spy agencies.


Maltese worker kidnapped in Libya freed

A Maltese worker who was abducted by Libyan rebels on the outskirts of Tripoli on July 17 has been freed and arrived home safely in Valletta on Monday, authorities said. Martin Galea, 40, a health and safety professional who worked for an oil and gas company, appeared to be in good health but was taken to hospital for a thorough examination. "I don't have words to thank all those who helped in whatever way to save my life," Galea said after being welcomed home by his wife and friends. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who also met Galea at the airport, said no ransom had been paid for his release.


US military weighs risks of aiding Ukraine

Senior American military officers are discussing the possibility of providing Ukraine with more precise intelligence that would allow it to target missiles held by pro-Russian forces, US officials said Monday. "That's part of the discussions," said one defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, referring to the possible enhanced intelligence sharing. The New York Times first reported that the Pentagon and spy agencies were looking at sharing more precise, real-time intelligence with Kiev to enable its military to go after surface-to-air missiles blamed for taking out several of its aircraft. "There's not enough military equipment that Washington could provide to counter Russian influence," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


U.S. officials defend Kerry from Israeli criticism

By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Obama administration officials rallied to the defense of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday after withering criticism in Israel of Kerry's failed attempt to secure a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians. The critiques of Kerry centered around ideas that U.S. officials say were sent to Israeli officials, based on an Egyptian draft ceasefire proposal, that would provide for an immediate end to hostilities and talks 48 hours later between Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian officials in Cairo. The confidential draft was leaked to the Israeli news media, which interpreted the proposal as akin to a U.S. effort to get Israel to halt a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas tunnels in Gaza that militants have used to launch attacks against Israeli soldiers.


US calls on Iran to free American reporter

The United States on Monday called on Iran to release a Washington Post reporter, his wife and two freelancers arrested in Tehran last week. Tehran's chief justice Gholamhossein Esmaili on Friday confirmed the arrest of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, 38, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi. "We call on the Iranian government to immediately release Mr. Rezaian and the other three individuals.


Court flips US state's ban on same-sex marriage

A federal appeals court on Monday struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage, in a landmark victory for the gay rights movement in the United States. The Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in the state capital Richmond said the ban violated the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law by infringing on the right to wed. "This is a historic ruling ... and its effect will affirm once again that Virginia is a state that is open and welcoming to all," he said in a statement. Virginia effectively banned same-sex marriage when a 2006 amendment to its state constitution -- endorsed by 57 percent of its voters in a referendum -- defined marriage strictly as a union between a man and a woman.


US voices concern for teen held in Israeli jail

The United States on Monday urged Israel to expedite the case of a 15-year-old American citizen held for three weeks on charges of rock-throwing, amid concerns he has been mistreated in custody. Mohammed Abu Nie -- who has dual American and Palestinian citizenship -- was arrested in east Jerusalem on July 3, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed. "We are certainly gravely concerned about the detention of an American citizen child," she told reporters. The boy has been charged with rock-throwing, carrying a knife and leading protests, she said, adding that officials from the US consulate in Jerusalem had visited him and attended his hearing on July 22.


Sarah Palin debuts online TV channel

Conservative gadfly Sarah Palin ramped up her Internet profile Monday with an online TV channel where fans can savor her homespun brand of American patriotism for just $9.95 a month. Well, so am I," said the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential hopeful upon the launch of the Sarah Palin Channel (sarahpalinchannel.com). Inaugural content featured Palin, sporting a US flag necklace, encouraging Americans to develop their "God-given" energy resources as a way to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin's "aggression."


Mexico, California officials question Texas border troop plan

Mexico's foreign minister and the visiting governor of California questioned Monday plans by Texas to deploy troops to stem the flow of immigrant children, saying they need humanitarian aid instead. Governor Jerry Brown, on a visit focused on boosting trade with California's southern neighbor, said the Texas plan must be a short-term measure and that he hopes "wiser minds will prevail over the next several months."


Obama urges African nations not to make economic 'excuses'

By Annika McGinnis WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday gave a preview of a summit he will hold with African leaders next week, saying African nations should look inward for solutions to economic woes and not make "excuses" based on a history of dependence and colonization. Speaking to 500 young Africans finishing a six-week Washington leadership fellowship, Obama said while it was important for developed countries to consider providing some targeted debt relief, it was time to end the notion that all of African nations' problems resulted from "onerous debt imposed by the West." "At some point, we have to stop looking somewhere else for solutions, and you have to start looking for solutions internally," Obama told the enthusiastic audience. “And as powerful as history is, and you need to know that history, at some point, you have to look to the future and say, ‘OK, we didn’t get a good deal then, but let’s make sure that we’re not making excuses for not going forward.’" Next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington will convene economic and political leaders from across Africa to discuss the continent’s development and the U.S. role in partnership and investment.


Millions fled homes in 2013 due to religious conflict: US

Washington (AFP) - Conflicts and repression around the world last year triggered the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory, the United States said Monday, revealing millions had fled their homes.


Rebels claim Kiev now controls part of MH17 site

Shakhtarsk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Ukraine's army on Monday seized control of part of the vast site where Malaysian airliner MH17 crashed, insurgents said, as the United Nations announced the downing of the plane could constitute a war crime.


Ernst back from military training to Senate race

URBANDALE, Iowa (AP) — Senate GOP candidate Joni Ernst has returned from two weeks of training with the Iowa National Guard to a contest against Democrat Bruce Braley that has become one of the nation's closely watched in the run-up to the midterm elections.


Russia hit by $50 bn Yukos ruling amid sanctions squeeze

London (AFP) - An international court ordered Russia on Monday to pay Yukos shareholders a record $50 billion compensation over its seizure of the defunct oil giant, a new blow for Moscow on top of sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.


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