Political News from Yahoo

German jobless rate stagnates in June: data

Unemployment in Germany stagnated in June as clouds begin to appear on the horizon of Europe's biggest economy and favourable statistical effects from mild weather wear off, official data showed on Tuesday. The unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent in seasonally adjusted terms in June, unchanged from May, while the number of people registered as unemployed rose by 9,000, the Federal Labour Office said in a statement. "Unemployment did not rise in the winter because of mild weather, so the usual decline in June was shallower than expected," the office explained.

Obama to promote fixing bridges, highways

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is mixing a little Fourth of July patriotism with a pitch to fix the nation's bridges and highways.

Thousands gather for Hong Kong pro-democracy march

Carrying banners and chanting slogans, thousands of protesters gathered Tuesday for a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong that organisers say could be the largest since the city was handed back to China. The rally reflects surging discontent over Beijing's insistence that it vet candidates before a vote in 2017 for the semi-autonomous city's next leader. The poll has irked Beijing, which branded it "illegal and invalid" despite the unexpectedly high turnout. "Hong Kong is turning into a place with less and less freedom," Eric Wong, a 24-year-old photographer who took part in the rally, told AFP.

More US troops to Iraq, raising total to about 750

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is sending another 300 troops to Iraq to increase security at the U.S. Embassy and elsewhere in the Baghdad area to protect U.S. citizens and property, officials said Monday.

Birth control ruling sparks political clash

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans called it a win for religious freedom. The decision of the Supreme Court, they said, is further evidence the country's new health care law is deeply flawed.

Patients shot in hospital beds in 'horrific' S.Sudan civil war: MSF

Violence in South Sudan's civil war including the execution of scores of hospital patients is the worst seen for decades and is an "affront to human dignity", Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday. "The conflict has at times seen horrific levels of violence, including against healthcare facilities," said Raphael Gorgeu, South Sudan chief for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF). "The violence carried out against the wounded and sick, and against those seeking shelter in hospitals and against medical facilities themselves, are not only violations of international laws and humanitarian principles, but an affront to human dignity," MSF said in a report that examined the situation over the last six months.

Obama to go it alone on immigration, pleasing few

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's abrupt shift from seeking immigration legislation to pursuing a go-it-alone executive strategy raises expectations among immigration advocates that Obama may have trouble satisfying while setting up a clash with House Republicans who've already threatened to sue him.

Japan to proclaim right to 'collective self defence'

The Japanese government will Tuesday proclaim the right to send its soldiers into battle even when the country is not under direct attack, in the most significant recasting of military policy since the pacifist constitution was written. Conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to crown months of political horse-trading when his cabinet formally endorses a reinterpretation of rules that have banned the use of armed force except in very narrowly-defined circumstances. Despite widespread public opposition that boiled over at the weekend when a middle-aged man attempted suicide by setting himself on fire in Tokyo, Abe will invoke the right to exercise so-called "collective self-defence". "The government has studied whether there is a defect in the current legal framework in protecting people's lives and property and Japan's safety... and we'll write the necessary legislation," top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a regular press conference.

Polish city's new statue cuts a urinating Lenin down to size

A Lenin statue has returned to a onetime model communist city in Poland but the monumental hero of Soviet days is now a small, lurid green man urinating from atop a black plinth. The ironic take on the Russian revolutionary stands in Nowa Huta, a working class suburb of Krakow, to offer a bit of comic closure with its often difficult communist past. "Are we capable of ascribing a funnier, surrealist meaning to this past, of bursting the bubble, of showing that we're able to let go of the trauma through laughter and distance?" asks artist Bartosz Szydlowski who created the piece with his wife Malgorzata. Called the "Fountain of the Future", the statue aims to subvert the ideological symbolism of the larger-than-life original, which was erected after World War II when Poland was a Soviet satellite then taken down when the regime fell in 1989.

Secret documents say NSA had broad scope, scant oversight

The US National Security Agency has been authorized to intercept information "concerning" all but four countries worldwide, top-secret documents say, according to The Washington Post. "The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand," the Post reported Monday. Yet "a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through US companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well." The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden -- says 193 countries are "of valid interest for US intelligence."

Japan business confidence sags in June quarter

Japanese business confidence has sagged since an April sales tax hike came into force, pushing up prices, in the first deterioration in six quarters, a Bank of Japan report showed Tuesday. The Tankan survey for the April-June quarter showed confidence among large manufacturers stood at plus 12, well short of market expectations, after hitting a more than six-year high of plus 17 in the preceding quarter. The latest reading marked the first decline since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012 on a pledge to kick-start the world's number-three economy, and throws into question the strength of Japan's recovery. The closely watched survey of more than 10,000 companies is the most comprehensive indicator yet of how Japan is coping with the impact of the nation's first sales tax rise in 17 years.

French bank BNP guilty of US sanctions violations

WASHINGTON (AP) — France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, has agreed to pay nearly $9 billion to resolve criminal allegations that it processed transactions for clients in Sudan and other blacklisted countries in violation of U.S. trade sanctions, the Justice Department announced Monday. The bank pleaded guilty to state charges in New York and plans another guilty plea in federal court next month.

US court reinstates Abu Ghraib torture lawsuit against contractor

A decade after the Abu Ghraib scandal, a US federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against a defense contractor accusing its employees of torturing detainees at the Iraqi prison. CACI International, based just outside the US capital in Arlington, Virginia, was accused of abusing and torturing Iraqi prisoners at the jail while it was managed by the American military. The plaintiffs in this case are four Iraqi detainees, and the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit on their behalf.

Obama to expand safeguards for transgender workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is preparing an executive order offering transgender federal workers formal protection from discrimination at work, President Barack Obama announced Monday.

Reaction to Supreme Court birth control decision

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some companies like the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and-craft stores can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, if they have religious objections.

Signs of improvement in US health costs, coverage

Health costs in the United States surged in the decade to 2010 along with the tally of Americans without medical insurance, but both trends then improved, a study said Monday. In 2002, the annual increase was about seven percent -- more than twice the rate in five other advanced economies -- but fell in 2011 to about one percent, putting the United States on a par with Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, according to an investigation published in The Lancet medical journal. Though the numbers improved, the US medical system remained at the bottom in terms of public access to health services, it added. From 2000 to 2010, the number of people without health insurance rose "dramatically" from 36.6 million to almost 50 million, mainly as a result of the economic downturn and unprecedented levels of immigration, the report found.

Obama says to reform immigration on his own, bypassing Congress

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he would take executive action to revamp the U.S. immigration system and move additional resources to protect the border after hopes of passing broad reform legislation in Congress officially died. Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed by the Senate would become law. The collapse of the legislative process delivers another in a series of blows to Obama's domestic policy agenda and comes as he struggles to deal with a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America who have entered the United States. Obama chided Republicans for refusing to bring immigration reform to a vote and said only legislation could provide a permanent fix to the problem.

Ukraine leader vows to 'attack' rebels as ceasefire dropped

Ukraine's Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko has announced that Kiev's forces will resume a military offensive against pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine after he opted not to prolong a shaky ceasefire. "After examining the situation I have decided, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, not to extend the unilateral ceasefire," Poroshenko said in an address to the nation late Monday.

Oyster farm owners eye options after ruling

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to consider the appeal of a popular oyster farm that federal officials want to shutter and return to wilderness along the coast of Northern California.