A former U.S. Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a controversy over the tax agency's treatment of Tea Party groups sent emails in which she appears to seek an audit involving a Republican senator, according to documents released on Wednesday by a House of Representatives committee. The emails show former IRS official Lois Lerner received an invitation to an event in 2012 that was meant to go to Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. Grassley apparently received Lerner's invitation by mistake. Lerner, in an email to another IRS official, suggests referring the matter for an audit.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — National Republican leaders trying to appeal to non-white voters are cringing over Senate candidate Chris McDaniel's complaints that Democrats — most of whom are black in Mississippi — voted in the state's GOP Senate runoff and helped six-term incumbent Thad Cochran capture the party nomination.
France strongly attacked the US-based body that assigns internet addresses on Wednesday, saying it was not a fit venue for internet governance and that alternatives should be sought. On Wednesday France failed in a bid to freeze the assigning of the domains, which it believes should be restricted to protect trade agreements on region-specific products like champagne. "ICANN's procedures highlight its inability to take into account the legitimate concerns of states," the French delegation to ICANN's 50th meeting, taking place in London, said in a statement. "Today ICANN is not the appropriate forum to discuss Internet governance."
Human rights activist Salwa Bouguiguis was shot dead by unknown assailants at her home in the restive east Libyan city of Benghazi late Wednesday, hospital and security sources said. "Unknown hooded men wearing military uniforms attacked Mrs Bouguiguis in her home and opened fire on her," said a security official, who did not wish to be named. The victim was taken to hospital in critical condition but died shortly afterwards, a spokesman for the Benghazi medical centre said. Bouguiguis, a lawyer, played an active part in Libya's 2011 revolution which overthrew the regime of Moamer Kadhafi.
Taxi drivers snarled traffic in downtown Washington on Wednesday in protest against smartphone car-hailing services such as Uber, which they say are cutting into their business. Several hundred cabbies took part in the demonstration on wheels spearheaded by the Washington DC Taxi Operators Association, affiliated with the powerful Teamsters union. "All they want is a level playing field," said Teamsters official Ferline Buie, who dropped off a letter to city hall demanding a ban on private sedan services pending fresh regulations. Taxi drivers in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome staged similar protests on June 11, saying unlicensed drivers and chauffeur services using Uber have been chipping away at their client base.
Talks between Argentina, seeking to avoid defaulting on its debt, and hedge fund bondholders are underway but there is not yet any resolution, a New York lawyer confirmed Wednesday. Daniel Pollack, appointed by a US federal judge to preside over the talks, said he met counsel for the parties for several hours Tuesday and that they had communicated with him by telephone over the last two days. Argentina's Economy Minister Axel Kicillof was in New York to discuss his country's debt situation with representatives of the Group of 77 developing nations plus China. New York federal judge Thomas Griesa on Monday named Pollack as "special master" to oversee talks, after Buenos Aires asked him to organize negotiations with its creditors.
The wife of an American contractor imprisoned in Cuba said Wednesday that he was growing more hopeless after his mother's death, warning she fears for his life. Alan Gross, 65, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba in 2011 after being convicted of "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state" for allegedly distributing communications equipment as a contractor for the USAID development aid agency. "I am extremely worried that Alan is going to do something drastic now that his mother is gone," Judy Gross wrote to AFP after visiting her husband. Washington has repeatedly called for Gross's release.
Corsica's main militant group FLNC, which has staged attacks since the 1970s in its quest for the island's separation from France, in a surprise move Wednesday announced it would lay down arms. The National Liberation Front of Corsica said in a 14-page statement that it has "unilaterally decided to begin a process of demilitarisation... without any preconditions". The FLNC, which was set up in 1976, and various other factions intent on self-rule have staged hundreds of attacks in Corsica. The decision comes just a few days after French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve visited Corsica.
A federal appeals court struck down Wednesday a ban on gay weddings in Utah, the latest US state to allow same-sex marriages following a landmark Supreme Court decision last year. The 10th Circuit court of appeals ruled that the 14th Amendment of the US constitution "protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. "A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union," added a three-judge panel in a 2-1 ruling. It was the latest twist in a legal battle that erupted in December when a federal judge overturned the socially conservative western US state's law banning same-sex marriage.
A Bahraini court on Wednesday acquitted prominent Shiite opposition figure Khalil Marzooq on charges of inciting terrorism in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom. Marzooq, a former MP for the main Shiite opposition movement Al-Wefaq, was arrested on September 17. Marzooq was in court for the verdict, along with representatives of the opposition as well as delegates from the embassies of Britain, France, Germany and the United States. The prosecutor had accused Marzooq of using his position at Al-Wefaq, an authorised political association, to "call for crimes that are considered terror acts under the law," according to an initial list of charges.
The United States on Wednesday shrugged off a warning by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that he would not accept a national emergency government, following US calls for an inclusive coalition to outride the current crisis. US officials said they believed that Maliki was still committed to opening a process on piecing together a government on July 1, following his assurances to that effect to Secretary of State John Kerry. In fact, there was some uncertainty in Washington as to what Maliki was referring when he said "the call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process." Kerry said there had been no discussion on framing a short-term national salvation government when he met Maliki and other leaders of different ethnic and religious sects in Baghdad this week.
Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr vowed Wednesday to "shake the ground" under the feet of advancing Sunni militants as Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki warned rivals against exploiting the crisis to sideline him. Sadr, whose movement long battled US forces during Washington's nearly nine-year war in Iraq, also voiced opposition to American military advisers meeting with Iraqi commanders combatting an offensive that has overrun swathes of five provinces, killed nearly 1,100 people, displaced hundreds of thousands and threatens to tear the country apart. His remarks came as security forces continued to repel assaults on critical towns and infrastructure, though fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise made a local alliance with the jihadist group leading the charge in Iraq, bolstering its offensive. He added that he only supported "providing international support from non-occupying states for the army of Iraq".
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that his chamber planned to "file suit in the coming weeks" against President Barack Obama for abuse of executive power. Obama's Republican foes have long accused him of exceeding the regulatory boundaries laid out under the US Constitution, following a series of executive actions taken by the president. Obama's fellow Democrats labeled the action a political stunt -- with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling it "a subterfuge" -- a little more than four months ahead of midterm elections in which Republicans hope to regain control of the Democrat-held Senate. "There really needs to be an adult in that room of the Republican caucus," Pelosi said.
Developing economies are increasingly hurt by the way global corporations exploit taxation differences and move profits to low-tax locations, according to an International Monetary Fund report Wednesday. Moreover, companies are increasingly able to shift and relocate more intangible assets -- like intellectual property -- to avoid taxes. In addition, tax-cutting and legal tax avoidance by corporations are having an impact on countries' fiscal strength, undermining their ability to fund government just at a time when many are fighting deficits. These sums may be small relative to total tax revenue in sizable advanced economies, but are large for the developing countries," the report said.