Political News from Yahoo

Gov't: Ruling backs nonprofits' birth control plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Wednesday that the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of the religious claims of Hobby Lobby and other for-profit businesses supports the government's position in separate, ongoing disputes with religious-oriented nonprofit organizations.

Lawyer for Libyan militant says evidence lacking

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for a Libyan militant charged in the 2012 Benghazi attacks said Wednesday that she had seen no evidence tying her client to the violence, but a judge nonetheless directed Ahmed Abu Khattala to remain in custody as the Justice Department builds its case against him.

Erdogan presidency risks further polarising tense Turkey

Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to represent all Turks as he declared he would stand for president, but critics fear his assumption of a powerful presidency risks further polarising an already divided country. Erdogan, 60, who has already been premier for 11 years, made clear in his announcement on Tuesday that he intended to be a much more powerful president than the largely ceremonial role performed by past incumbents. Erdogan is widely expected to win the August 10 polls that would see him extend his hold on power at least until 2019 and -- should he seek a second mandate -- possibly until 2024. The potential for strife is clear at the most turbulent time in his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party's (AKP) decade-long domination of Turkey, after a year of protests and a stream of corruption allegations.

Fed's Yellen: 'pockets' of higher risk taking in US

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that she sees some rise in potentially dangerous risk taking in the US financial system, but none requiring a change in monetary policy. In a speech on how central banks should deal with excessively risky behavior in an economy, especially one underpinned as now by very low interest rates, Yellen said the United States is in much better shape in the wake of the 2008 crisis. "Taking all of these factors into consideration, I do not presently see a need for monetary policy to deviate from a primary focus on attaining price stability and maximum employment, in order to address financial stability concerns."

Iraq's new jets likely from Iran

Three Sukhoi ground attack jets shown landing in Iraq in a video released by the defence ministry are likely from Iran, a think tank said Wednesday. Iraq has purchased more than a dozen Sukhoi jets from Russia in a bid to bolster its forces in their battle against a sweeping militant offensive that has overrun large areas of five provinces. On Tuesday, the defence ministry said a second group of five Sukhoi aircraft had arrived in the country, implicitly as part of the Russian deal. The online statement was accompanied by a video showing Su-25s landing in Iraq.

Clinton takes book tour to Europe

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton flew to London Wednesday, kicking off the first leg of a European tour to promote her new memoir. "We're taking the #HardChoices book tour across the pond!" Clinton wrote on Twitter, posting a picture of herself signing a copy of her new memoir "Hard Choices" at a bookstore in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The book, which was released on June 10 and chronicles Clinton's time at the State Department, has kept the former US senator and first lady hopping from event to event across the United States and Canada. Clinton's European schedule, which has not been made fully public, includes a video interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper on Friday and an interview at Berlin's Schiller Theater on Sunday.

Grenade attack hurts four at cafe in Lebanon's Tripoli

A grenade thrown into a cafe hurt four people on Wednesday in Lebanon's often-restive northern city of Tripoli, security officials said. The motive for the attack was not immediately clear, but there were suspicions the cafe was targeted for opening its doors during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. "Four people, including two Syrian nationals, were injured when unknown assailants threw a grenade into a cafe in the Bab el-Tebbaneh district" in Tripoli, a security official said. The assailants approached the cafe on a motorbike and tossed the device in before escaping.

Egypt refers 71 Morsi backers to trial over deadly violence

Egypt's general prosecutor Wednesday bound over for trial 71 supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi over August 2013 violence that killed 16 people. The trial is part of a relentless crackdown targeting Morsi supporters since the army ousted him last July. More than 1,400 Morsi supporters have been killed in a police crackdown, while at least 16,000 have been jailed, and about 200 sentenced to death in speedy mass trials. The fighting broke out on August 14, the day security forces moved to disband two Cairo Islamist sit-ins calling for Morsi's reinstatement, sparking clashes that left hundreds dead.

'Vulture' funds challenge Argentina to enter talks

Hedge funds backed by a US court in their demands for $1.3 billion from Argentina challenged the country's economy minister Wednesday to enter talks with them this week. NML Capital, one of two funds which sued Argentina for payment on defaulted bonds they hold, said Economy Minister Axel Kicillof should open talks with them during his trip to the United States. "We're ready to meet with Minister Kicillof during his visit to Washington, DC this week, and to negotiate without preconditions," said Jay Newman, senior portfolio manager at Elliott Management, NML's parent. "We're serious about negotiations, but we are still waiting for Argentina to engage in any dialogue with us."

Land mine kills four Tunisian soldiers

Four Tunisian soldiers were killed by a land mine Wednesday in the country's northwest, where the army has been battling Islamist militants, the defence ministry said. "Four soldiers aboard a Hummer were killed by a land mine explosion during an anti-terror operation" at Jebel Ouergha in Kef province, said ministry spokesman Rachid Bouhoula. The incident is the latest in a string of fatalities caused by roadside bombs and land mines in the remote border region, parts of which have been declared closed military zones as the security forces press a campaign against militants holed up there. On Tuesday, four soldiers and two policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in the Kef region, two days after a similar attack injured another policeman.

Top Jordan jihadist denounces IS caliphate

A leading Jordanian jihadist ideologist on Wednesday denounced the declaration of a "caliphate" by Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria, warning against more bloodshed. "Can every Muslim and weak person find refuge in this caliphate? Or would it be like a sharp sword against all opponents?" Issam Barqawi, known as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdessi, wrote on Facebook and on jihadist websites. On Sunday, militants previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), declared a "caliphate", an Islamic form of government last seen under the Ottoman Empire, straddling parts of Iraq and Syria.

US, Iran trade barbs in nuclear talks finale

The US and Iran fired opening salvos Wednesday in a stormy Vienna as a final round of nuclear talks got under way with chances of a historic deal by a July 20 deadline on a knife edge. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany want Iran to scale down its nuclear activities in order to ease long-held fears that Tehran might develop atomic weapons. Iran, subject to damaging UN and Western sanctions, insists its nuclear programme is purely peaceful and even wants to expand key parts of it. This sixth round of talks starts officially on Thursday, but preliminary meetings -- including between Iran, the US and the EU -- took place on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Oil prices lower after US data

Oil prices fell on Wednesday, hit by the prospect of higher Libyan output but losses were capped by a bigger-than-expected drop in US crude inventories and Iraq unrest, analysts said. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August dropped 71 cents to stand at $111.58 a barrel in late London deals. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August slipped 43 cents to $104.91 a barrel compared with Tuesday's close. "Brent crude prices have set aside concerns about the situation in Iraq and chosen to focus on the fact that supplies from Libya appear to be on the verge of restarting," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at traders CMC Markets UK.

Judge orders Benghazi suspect to remain in U.S. custody

By Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Libyan militant accused of involvement in the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya will remain in U.S. custody as he awaits trial, a federal judge said on Wednesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson ordered the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khatallah, detained after his lawyers raised no objections to a request from federal prosecutors that Khatallah be held because he has no ties to the United States and posed a "serious danger" to others. Khatallah appeared in court for the second time after being captured on June 15 by a U.S. military and FBI team and transported to the country via U.S. Navy ship. He faces criminal charges over his alleged participation in the attack on the compound in Benghazi that led to the death of four Americans.

British PM condemns 'appalling' killing of Palestinian teen

British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned as "appalling" Wednesday the killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack after three Israeli youths were murdered. He also urged Israel and the Palestinians to exercise restraint as tensions rise. At least 65 people were hurt in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in riot gear outside the teenager's house and Israeli police have raised the alert to the second highest level countrywide. "I'm appalled by the murder of a Palestinian teenager," Cameron wrote on Twitter.

Sudanese youth activist tortured, says family

The family of a detained Sudanese youth activist, held for 50 days without charge, on Wednesday alleged he has been tortured in detention. Tajalsir Jaafar, 28, is one of three activists whose condition a United Nations expert raised concerns about last week. Jaafar is "in danger", his mother Sabah Osman Mohammed told AFP, unable to say more through her tears. His body is full of injuries," said Jaafar's younger brother, Ahmed Jaafar Tajalsir, 25.

Ethiopia facing flood of S.Sudan refugees: UN

Ethiopia is facing a huge wave of refugees from South Sudan, where the spectre of famine threatens to heap further misery on a people already blighted by civil war, the UN's food aid agency warned on Wednesday. "The numbers are increasing exponentially in a very short period of time," said Abdou Dieng, head of the World Food Programme's Ethiopia operations. More than 158,000 South Sudanese refugees have already crossed the border to reach camps in neighbouring Ethiopia, according to UN figures released Wednesday. "The situation is not improving in South Sudan, so we expect that they will continue to come.

Egypt nabs militants over bombs claimed by different group

Egyptian police arrested Wednesday four members of an Islamist militant group over bomb blasts near a presidential palace, although another group claimed it had planted the explosives. Separately, the interior ministry said police arrested two people over bombings at Cairo metro stations on June 25 that wounded five people. Two bomb disposal experts, a police colonel and lieutenant colonel, were killed Monday as they attempted to defuse bombs outside the Ittihadeya palace in eastern Cairo. Security forces "arrested four suspected of being involved in the latest blasts that happened near the presidential palace," a security official said.

US condemns apparent revenge killing of Palestinian teen

The United States on Wednesday condemned the killing of a Palestinian youth in apparent revenge for the murders of three Israeli teenagers, warning acts of vengeance would worsen an explosive situation. "There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. President Barack Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice said on Twitter that the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder was "heinous" and called on both Israelis and Palestinians to avoid a cycle of retribution and revenge. Kerry noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had condemned the killing and urged Israelis not to take the law into their own hands.

Pakistan amends terror law amid major anti-militant push

Lawmakers passed changes to Pakistan's anti-terrorism law Wednesday, doubling the maximum prison sentence for those convicted of terror offences and allowing security forces to detain suspects for up to 60 days. The Pakistani government had faced a battle to push the tough anti-terror law through, with rights activists and opposition parties attacking it as repressive. The changes come after Pakistan's military launched a massive offensive on June 15 against insurgents in the tribal area of North Waziristan. The Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 doubles the maximum jail time for terror offences to 20 years.