By Gabriel Debenedetti MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Conservative Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz tested the 2016 presidential waters at an event on Saturday in the influential state of New Hampshire at which potential opponents from the more moderate wing of the party did not appear. The "Freedom Summit" rally was the latest in a series of stops for Cruz and Paul, who are hoping to win the favor of the party's right wing for potential White House bids. The event was co-hosted by Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers and the single largest advertiser in the 2014 election cycle so far. Among other speakers was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 and is seen as a potential 2016 contender.
Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Ukraine on April 22 to stress US support for Kiev and steps to improve its energy security amid a crisis with neighboring Russia. During his meetings with government leaders and civil society groups, Biden will "underscore the United States' strong support for a united, democratic Ukraine that makes its own choices about its future path," a White House statement said Saturday. The announcement came just a day after Washington unveiled sanctions against six of Crimea's breakaway leaders, including the official who signed the deal with Moscow to split the peninsula from Ukraine. A first wave of US sanctions unveiled in March had blacklisted officials and businesspeople close to Russian President Vladimir Putin to protest Moscow's takeover of Crimea.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The family of an Iranian-American former U.S. Marine held in Iran since 2011 called on Saturday for senior Iranian officials to review his conviction and 10-year prison sentence on charges of collaborating with the U.S. government and to free him. The family of Amir Hekmati, whose previous espionage conviction and death sentence in Iran were overturned in 2012, said he was retried in secret, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison on a charge of "practical collaboration with the American government." The family said he was innocent of the charges. Iran has not commented on any developments in the case. "The Hekmati family respectfully asks senior Iranian officials to review Amir's conviction, and to resolve this grave misunderstanding by granting Amir his freedom and a safe return home," the family, living in Flint, Michigan, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
Tsuru (Japan) (AFP) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on a test ride of Japan's super-fast magnetic train on Saturday, showcasing the "Maglev" technology Tokyo hopes to sell to its ally. "I hope ambassador Kennedy will enjoy the full package of Japan -- the blizzard of cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji and the state-of-the-art technology," a relaxed-looking Abe said ahead of the ride. As the distinctive white and pink petals of the blossom swirled in the breeze, the pair boarded at the Yamanashi Maglev Test Line near Mount Fuji. Maglev, short for magnetic levitation after the magnets that propel the vehicle forward in place of traditional wheels and axles, is a contender for President Barack Obama's multi-billion-dollar national high-speed rail project.
WASHINGTON (AP) — As it warns Russia to step back from Ukraine or suffer another financial hit, the U.S. is simultaneously trying to coax along a reluctant Europe, which is trying to balance its desire to punish Moscow against its fear of economic turmoil from the effects of a new, harsher round of Western trade sanctions.
MONROE, La. (AP) — In a matter of days, Republican Vance McAllister has gone from being the unlikely congressman — a special election winner who trounced his party's establishment candidate — to the "kissing congressman," a faith-and-family politician caught on video embracing an aide married to one of his friends.