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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - A group of 58 countries led by Switzerland on Monday expressed "strong support" for a French proposal to drag Syria before the International Criminal Court, a move expected to be nixed by Russia and China. In a letter on behalf of the group, the Swiss ambassador to the UN, Paul Seger, urged the UN Security Council to adopt a draft resolution "to send a strong message of political support."
By Aruna Viswanatha and Jim Finkle WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. grand jury has indicted five Chinese military officers on charges of hacking into American companies for information on nuclear plant design, solar manufacturing and other secrets in the toughest action taken by Washington to address cyber spying. China denied the charges, saying they were "made up" and would damage trust between the two nations. Officials in Washington have argued for years that cyber espionage is one of the nation's top national security concerns because foreign hackers have stolen secrets from defense contractors and technology secrets that could pose a threat to U.S. prosperity. Yet the indictments mark the first time the United States has filed charges against specific officials of foreign governments, accusing them of corporate cyber spying.
US and European negotiators opened a new round of talks on creating a transatlantic free trade zone Monday amid rising political and public resistance to the deal on both sides. The fifth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will cover the details of proposals from the US and EU sides, with no aim to resolve the most difficult divisions between the two sides, officials said. TTIP could eventually establish the world's largest free trade and investment zone, covering some 820 million people and more than $1 trillion in annual two-way trade Public resistance has risen as well.
Tunisia on Monday formed a long-awaited truth and justice commission, more than three years after the 2011 revolution, to implement "transitional justice" and compensate the victims of decades of dictatorship. The 15-member body, which was elected by the national assembly with a majority of 71 votes, will also be tasked with identifying and bringing to trial those responsible for abuses committed under the former regimes of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Habib Bourguiba. Its formation comes after two years of political bickering that stalled progress on the country's institution building, and six months after the transitional justice law was finally ratified by parliament after repeated delays. The new commission is made up of human rights activists, representatives of victim groups, opponents of Ben Ali and judges.