Political News from Yahoo

Nunn skirts question on health care vote

ATLANTA (AP) — Democratic Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn in Georgia declined to answer questions Monday about whether she would have voted for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, as candidates in six states went through the final paces of bruising primary campaigns for congressional and statewide offices.

Tuareg rebels free hostages seized in northern Mali

Tuareg rebels on Monday released 32 civil servants taken hostage in a deadly siege at government offices in northern Mali, the United Nations' MINUSMA peacekeeping force said. The release of the hostages came as 1,500 Malian troops poured into the town, sent to restore government control to the bastion of Mali's Tuareg separatist movement, 1,500 kilometre (900 miles) northeast of the capital. A firefight between the army and separatists from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) outside the regional governor's headquarters on Saturday left eight Malian soldiers and 28 insurgents dead. "After negotiations that took place during the night of Sunday May 18 and Monday May 19, MINUSMA recovered 32 prisoners from the MNLA and transported them to the MINUSMA camp in Kidal where a medical check-up was offered," the force said in a statement.

Thai government not consulted about martial law: PM's aide

Bangkok (AFP) - Thailand's embattled government was not consulted in advance by the military about the declaration of martial law but it is still in power, said the chief security adviser to Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan.

Gunmen shoot dead three policemen, wound nine in Cairo: ministry

Gunmen travelling in a car opened fire on Tuesday on a group of Egyptian policemen outside Cairo's Al-Azhar university, killing three and wounding nine others, the interior ministry said. The attack comes just days ahead of a presidential election on May 26-27, which former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to win. The number of attacks targeting policemen has risen since Sisi ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July last year. The latest came as some students of Cairo's Al-Azhar university, a prestigious seat of Sunni Islamic teaching, were protesting in favour of Morsi, the ministry said in a statement.

Thailand's army invokes martial law: military TV

Thailand's army on Tuesday declared martial law across the crisis-gripped kingdom to restore order following months of anti-government protests that have left 28 people dead and hundreds wounded. An announcement on military-run television said martial law had been invoked "to restore peace and order for people from all sides", stressing that the move "is not a coup". The imposition of martial law risks angering supporters of the government if it is seen as tantamount to a coup. The dismissal of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra earlier this month in a controversial court ruling has sent tensions soaring in the kingdom, which has endured years of political turmoil.

Obama offers $50 million to South Sudan refugees

President Barack Obama announced Monday that the United States would offer an extra $50 million to help tackle a growing refugee crisis spawned by fighting in South Sudan. "Months of conflict between the government of South Sudan and rebel forces have exacted a terrible toll on the people of South Sudan," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. Hayden said the $50 million in extra emergency aid would be part of a $300 million grant the US delegation will formally unveil at a pledging conference in Oslo on Tuesday and would bring total US humanitarian assistance since the start of the conflict in South Sudan last year to around $433.6 million. The United Nations says $1.26 billion is needed in conflict-torn South Sudan to avoid a major humanitarian crisis threatening millions of people.

US Supreme Court to hear whistleblower case

The US Supreme Court will consider later this year whether an air marshal was lawfully sacked for disclosing sensitive information on flight safety to the media, it said Monday. Air Force veteran Robert MacLean was among the first US air marshals recruited after the September 11, 2001 terror strikes to provide security on flights. In 2003, he told a US broadcaster that his employer, the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), to save money, had decided not to put agents on some late flights because that would require overnight hotel stays. He had discussed his concerns with FAMS that terrorists might take advantage of the apparent security hole, but was told the decision would stand, court documents show.

Obama to meet New Zealand's Key at White House on June 20

Washington (AFP) - President Barack Obama will welcome New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key to the White House next month for talks on a proposed Asia-Pacific trade pact, military cooperation and climate change.

FBI’s Huge Hacker Bust Could Be Bogus

Dozens have been arrested in a king-sized global hacker crackdown. But it’s unclear whether the charges against these supposed cyber criminals will actually stick.

Senate panel to consider Burwell health secretary nomination on Wednesday

The Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Committee will hold a business meeting on Wednesday to consider the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as U.S. secretary of health and human services, a panel aide said on Monday. The 24-member committee, which includes 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans, is expected to conduct an up-or-down vote on whether to forward Burwell's nomination to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote. The aide said Burwell's nomination will need support from a majority of lawmakers to make it to the Senate floor.

White House vows CIA will not stage fake vaccine programs

The White House has promised the United States will not use vaccination programs as cover for spy operations -- after the move was attempted during the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. As Pakistan suffers a resurgence of polio, a top White House official pledged in a letter dated May 16 that intelligence agencies would foreswear the tactic, which is partly blamed for the spread of the crippling disease. Islamic militant leaders are reluctant to embrace vaccination programs after Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi attempted to help the CIA track down the Al-Qaeda terror chief through a fake vaccine project.

‘Calamity Jill’ Rises Again

Resilience was Jill Abramson’s theme talking to graduates, in her first public speech since being fired from The New York Times.

McConnell will have to pivot after likely Kentucky primary win

By Nick Carey LOUISVILLE (Reuters) - Facing a challenge from a Tea Party candidate in this year's race to fill his Senate seat, Mitch McConnell has sought to appeal to conservative Republicans by stressing his pro-gun, anti-immigration and anti-abortion stance. Going into Tuesday's Republican primary in Kentucky, the Senate minority leader is ahead of his opponent, Louisville-based businessman Matt Bevin, by a wide margin, according to opinion polls. But once victory is secured, McConnell will have to tack back toward the political center ahead of a tight November contest against Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. When McConnell sought re-election in 2008 he ran on a record of bringing jobs and federal largesse to his home state of Kentucky, including some of the pork barrel spending be has been arguing against, and was low key about the social issues.

U.S. indicts five in China's secret 'Unit 61398' for cyber-spying

After years of complaining that China is engaged in stealing trade secrets from American companies, the United States on Monday for the first time filed cyber-espionage charges against individuals belonging to a unit of the Chinese military, accusing them of hacking trade secrets since 2006 from five domestic manufacturers and the steelworkers union. The indictment, filed by the US Attorney's Office for the western district of Pennsylvania, where several of the US companies are based, names five Chinese nationals who worked for China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Unit 61398, a cyber-intelligence-gathering section. The PLA workers named in the indictment are not in US custody, and probably never will be. By taking this legal action, the US is signaling to China that its tolerance of economic cyber-spying, which results in loss of American firms' competitive position on the world market, is at a breaking point.

Why Putin Really Will Pull Back

The Russian president has announced once again that he’s backing his troops away from the Ukrainian brink. This time he probably means it, and he has good reason.

Louisiana lawmakers want drivers to 'arret'

Drivers in the southern US state of Louisiana -- many of whom trace their colonial roots to France -- may one day soon find themselves stopping at bilingual signs that warn: "Stop-Arret." A new law passed last week by local lawmakers authorizes parishes -- the state's version of counties -- to translate their road signs into "Louisiana French." The law now passes to Governor Bobby Jindal, a conservative Republican, for his signature or veto. Jindal has thrown out previous versions of the bill, but local lawmaker Stephen Ortego, a Democrat who authored it, urged the governor to sign this time.

US man jailed for 25 years for Obama ricin plot

Washington (AFP) - A Mississippi man who concocted and then sent potentially lethal ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other senior US officials was jailed Monday for 25 years.

Today in Forty-Five Seconds

Oregon legalizes gay marriage, California Chrome gets one step closer to the Triple Crown, a UN official makes a plea to tax unhealthy foods, and today's other top stories.

US top court sides against MGM in 'Raging Bull' case

The US Supreme Court Monday dealt a blow to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, siding with the daughter of a screenwriter behind Oscar-winning boxing drama "Raging Bull" over her right to sue for copyright claims. Paula Petrella, whose now deceased father Frank Petrella worked on the script for the 1980 film, sought damages from infringement of a copyright that she inherited after her father's death. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court said that Petrella could go forward with her suit against the studio, which she first filed in 2009. The justices sought to determine whether the "doctrine of laches" -- which says a lawsuit cannot be filed after an unreasonable delay -- applied in the case.