The US Navy on Saturday will christen the USS Zumwalt, the first of a new class of futuristic, costly destroyers -- of which only three are to be built. The Zumwalt, named in honor of a former chief of naval operations, was planned as a multi-mission ship equipped with two long-range, high-powered guns. The US Navy currently has 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, of which 25 are equipped with an anti-ballistic missile defense system. The USS Zumwalt will be followed only by the Michael Monsoor and the Lyndon Johnson, many fewer than the 24 Zumwalt-class destroyers the US Navy originally planned on.
US officials announced Thursday that companies sharing information about cybersecurity would not face prosecution on antitrust grounds. The news came amid heightened concerns about data breaches and malware that can foil online encryption to allow hackers to steal passwords or other personal data. Officials at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission said they issued formal guidance telling companies that there would be no antitrust issues from the sharing of technical information about cyber attacks, malware or similar threats. "And speaking on behalf of everyone here today, this guidance responds to those concerns, lets everyone know that antitrust concerns should not get in the way of sharing cybersecurity information, and signals our continued commitment to expanding the sharing of cybersecurity information."
Washington is working with Ukraine and its western neighbors to help reverse gas flows along pipelines linking Russia to Europe after Moscow threatened to cut off supplies to Kiev. "We condemn Russia's efforts to use energy as a tool of coercion against Ukraine," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened on Thursday to cut off Ukraine's gas unless Europe drummed up the cash to cover Kiev's debts to the Russian state gas firm Gazprom and ensure its own supplies in a flaring standoff over the splintered ex-Soviet state. The veteran strongman's most direct warning about deliveries on which EU nations' economies depend came with Ukraine facing a new secession crisis following its loss of Crimea.
By Steve Holland and Karen Brooks AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Barack Obama wrapped himself on Thursday in the civil rights legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 1960s president who helped clear the way for an African-American to one day become U.S. president. Obama was joined by three former presidents this week in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark legislation that tested Johnson's vaunted negotiating skills and took a step toward ending America's segregationist past. Speaking to a crowd at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, Obama lauded the 36th U.S. president's civil rights push as "one giant man's remarkable efforts to make real the promise of our founding: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'" Obama, who has so far spent much of his second term as president tussling with Republican opponents, said Johnson's "Great Society" programs aimed at providing a social safety net for low-income Americans are as vital as ever and that politicians who want to dismantle them are cynical.
Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation Thursday aimed at denying a visa to Iran's newly appointed UN ambassador over his alleged links to the 1979 US hostage crisis. Furious over the prospect of allowing Tehran's envoy on to US soil, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill after the Senate did the same Monday. While the White House has already signaled that a visa for Iran's appointed UN envoy Hamid Aboutalebi was "not viable," White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to say whether the president would sign the legislation.
The United States Thursday criticized Sudan's expulsion of a top UN official, saying it was part of a "troubling pattern" against foreign aid workers. Pamela DeLargy, an American who headed the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) office in Sudan, "was asked to leave," Khartoum's foreign ministry spokesman Abubakr al-Siddiq told AFP. A State Department official confirmed that a US citizen working for the UN Population Fund had been asked to leave the country, without identifying them, and said Washington was asking for more information from Khartoum. But the official told AFP: "This expulsion is the latest in a troubling pattern of the Sudanese government’s expulsion of foreign aid workers in the country."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives panel voted along party lines on Thursday to hold a former Internal Revenue Service officer in contempt of Congress over her role in a 2013 controversy involving IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS tax-exempt division, twice exercised her right not to testify about the affair before the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at public hearings on Capitol Hill. ...
Intensive talks between Japan and the United States aimed at breaking the deadlock over a huge pan-Pacific trade deal ended Thursday without agreement, as hopes faded of progress before Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo this month. US Trade Representative Michael Froman and his Japanese counterpart Akira Amari said 18 hours of discussions had done little to reduce the "distance" between them, especially on farm and auto products. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an ambitious plan for a free trade agreement among 12 countries which, if realised, could cover 40 percent of global GDP. It is a key plank in President Obama's foreign policy, and an effort to anchor the US firmly to a region that is increasingly feeling the pull of Beijing's mighty economy.
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee said on Thursday that intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities would be top priorities as the panel puts together this year's massive defense policy bill. "If you don't know what somebody else is doing, you don't even know what your risks are," U.S. Representative Buck McKeon said during a meeting with reporters. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, covers everything from unmanned planes such as the high-altitude Global Hawk that Northrop Grumman Corp builds for the Air Force to manned surveillance planes such as Boeing's P-8 aircraft. McKeon said military commanders were reluctant to give up the manned U-2 spy planes that the Air Force wants to retire in favor of the Global Hawk planes.
By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - Republican Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts Senator, plans to launch his campaign to represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate on Thursday with an attack on incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen's vote for Obamacare. Brown, who moved to his native New Hampshire late last year to explore a run for office, has focused much of his energy on attacking the Affordable Care Act, an issue that Republicans are making a centerpiece of 2014 campaigns. "I worked with Senator Shaheen in the U.S. Senate for three years.