Political News from Yahoo

Obama to unveil first 5 'Promise Zones'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is announcing ways the federal government can help economically challenged communities through five new "Promise Zones."

Pentagon chief in rare visit to nuke missile base

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is making a rare visit to an Air Force nuclear missile base, hoping to boost morale among the men and women who operate, maintain and safeguard the nation's Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles.

Republicans promote ways of helping the poor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with an empathy gap before the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans are trying to forge a new image as a party that helps the poor and lifts struggling workers into the middle class.

Obama expected to curb NSA access to phone records

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is expected to restrict National Security Agency access to Americans' phone records and rein in spying on foreign leaders, according to people familiar with a White House review of the government's surveillance programs.

U.S. needs modern nuclear deterrent despite high price tag -Hagel

By David Alexander ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday the United States had always supported a strong nuclear deterrent and would continue to do so, even as it braces for a nuclear forces overhaul that analysts say could cost $1 trillion over 30 years. "To modernize your nuclear weapons stockpile and assure that they continue to stay secure and safe, it takes money, it takes resources," Hagel said after touring Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland Air Force Base, two facilities involved in maintaining the weapons. Hagel travels on Thursday to F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he will see intercontinental ballistic missile silos and talk to troops in a nuclear mission that has been troubled by morale problems. Major General Michael Carey was fired as head of the 450-weapon U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile force in October for getting drunk and carousing with Russian women while leading a government delegation to Moscow for talks on nuclear security.

Farewell: McDonnell apologizes after gift scandal

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Outgoing Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell apologized in a major speech Wednesday to lawmakers for a gift scandal that eroded his political standing, but claimed strong economic leadership and new transportation funding as lasting achievements.

Boeing machinists allege unfair labor practices, seek revote

By Alwyn Scott and Bill Rigby NEW YORK/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Angry Boeing machinists have filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging their union's top leaders manipulated a recent contract vote, and demanding that ballots be recast. The NLRB has launched an investigation into the charges, filed by individual members against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said Anne Pomerantz, an attorney with the NLRB regional office in Seattle. The charges stem from a January 3 vote that approved Boeing's contract offer by just 600 votes, ensuring its latest jetliner, the 777X, will be built in the Seattle area.

House Democrats McCarthy and McIntyre to retire

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two House Democrats, Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, plan to retire at the end of their terms, their offices announced Wednesday.

Plenty of unknowns in how to impeach Ark. lt. gov.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr's impeachment over an ethics scandal may be "inevitable" unless he resigns, in the words of a fellow Republican. But before legislators could impeach Darr, they'd have to write the rules for the process, which Arkansas hasn't used in more than 140 years.

Obama edges closer to decisions on intelligence reforms

By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama consulted intelligence officials on Wednesday on ways to rein in U.S. surveillance practices as he nears the end of a review likely to lead to changes as to how bulk telephone data is handled as well as restrictions to spying on foreign leaders. Obama, who could announce his intelligence reforms in a speech as early as next week, is acting in an attempt to restore Americans' confidence in U.S. intelligence services after damaging disclosures from former spy contractor Edward Snowden about the sweep of surveillance practices. Obama reviewed the progress of the administration's review in a meeting with James Clapper, the director of U.S. intelligence, and Keith Alexander, the National Security Agency director, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden.

N.J. Gov. Christie says misled by staff in bridge scandal

By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday said he was misled by his staff after fresh revelations that a top aide played a key role in closing some lanes leading to one of the world's busiest bridges in what critics say was a political vendetta. A Republican widely expected to make a bid for the White House in 2016, Christie has become embroiled in a scandal over the closing of part of the access to George Washington Bridge, a move seen as meant to punish a New Jersey Democratic mayor. The George Washington Bridge is among the world's busiest, carrying some 300,000 vehicles on a typical day. The abrupt and unexpected lane closures, which lasted four days in September, badly snarled traffic in the borough of Fort Lee at the New Jersey end of the bridge.

White House defends itself, Biden over Gates book

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rushing to curb political fallout, the White House pushed back Wednesday against harsh criticism in a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that questions President Barack Obama's war leadership and rips into Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama likely to accept change in spying on leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is expected to tighten restrictions on U.S. spying on foreign leaders and also is considering changes in National Security Agency access to Americans' phone records, according to people familiar with a White House review of the nation's surveillance programs.

White House rallies around Joe Biden after Gates' critique

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and other top administration officials rallied around Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday after former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates criticized him sharply in a memoir. Gates, who led the Pentagon from 2006 to 2011 under Republican President George W. Bush and then Obama, said in his book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," that Biden had been "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." The comments, reported in media accounts about the book, were especially stinging about a man who has made foreign policy a large part of his portfolio as Obama's No. 2. The White House said on Tuesday that the president did not share Gates' assessment of Biden. Reporters grilled spokesman Jay Carney about the book and Biden's role in the administration on Wednesday, prompting a spirited response.

Commentary: Throw 'Em All Out of Congress -- Except Mine

Congress' approval ratings are near record lows, with just 12 percent of Americans saying the House and the Senate are doing a good job, according to a mid-December Gallup poll. Yahoo News asked voters to compare and contrast their representative with Congress as a whole and to indicate why they like, or dislike, one over the other. My congressman, Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois' fifth House district, is a Democrat in a sea of Republicans who seem to have forgotten the purpose of Congress. And, wow, this Congress refused to legislate, passing only 66 bills into law, packing in an extra eight in late December to bring the total up from 58.

Gov't: Most school discipline need not mean court

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Wednesday pressed the nation's schools to abandon what it described as overly zealous discipline policies that send students to court instead of the principal's office. Even before the announcement, school districts around the country have been taking action to adjust the policies that disproportionately affect minority students.

New York's Cuomo pushes tax cuts, infrastructure boost

By Edward Krudy ALBANY, New York (Reuters) - New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a wide-ranging election-year speech in his annual address on Wednesday, pressing signature issues such as cutting taxes, revitalizing worn infrastructure and boosting the upstate economy. The packed event was attended by many of New York's political elite, including New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio. "Three years ago New York's government was a national punch line," said Cuomo. "Albany was mired in scandals and dysfunction.

GOP seeks jobless bill changes to offset the cost

WASHINGTON (AP) — One day after clearing a key Senate hurdle, legislation to renew long-term jobless benefits veered toward gridlock Wednesday as Democrats objected to Republican demands to offset the cost so deficits don't rise.

Commentary: Why I Dislike Congress, but I Like My Congressman

My congressman, Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, is an attorney and ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He represents western areas of Los Angeles, including West Hollywood, where I live, as well as Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and Santa Monica.