Hillary Clinton's book launch looks undeniably like the prelude to a presidential campaign, but despite growing buzz, Democrats are scraping together Plans B, C and D in case she doesn't run. "If Hillary doesn't run, it's an open free-for-all," former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who ran for president 10 years ago and headed the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, told AFP in a telephone interview. Clinton, who narrowly lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, has said she will likely decide after November's mid-term elections. A handful of Democratic alternatives are already being floated, including Vice President Joe Biden, who has acknowledged mulling another White House campaign.
By Susan Cornwell and David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - California lawmaker Kevin McCarthy emerged as the sole contender in the Republican contest to fill one of the top positions in the U.S. Congress after two candidates dropped out on Thursday, but some lawmakers said McCarthy was not conservative enough and hoped others would jump in the race. McCarthy, the House majority whip, has been asking other lawmakers to support his bid to become House of Representatives majority leader to succeed Eric Cantor, who is stepping down after his upset primary election defeat to a little-known challenger from the populist Tea Party movement.
It was a day of contrasts in Brazil as the country opened the World Cup with clashes between riot police and protesters in Sao Paulo, before wild street celebrations when the "selecao" beat Croatia 3-1 after coming from behind. The fireworks that exploded over the mega-city after each goal for Brazil made the tear gas and clashes just up the road from Corinthians Arena seem so much more distant. After months of violent protests over the $11 billion cost of hosting the World Cup, some who watched the victory with 300 others in a Sao Paulo street bedecked in yellow and green banners voiced hope such victories could tame the street rage.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Representative Pete Sessions said on Thursday night he was dropping out of the race for House majority leader, leaving just one candidate in the contest to replace Eric Cantor. "After thoughtful consideration, I made the decision to not continue my run for House Majority Leader," the Texas lawmaker said in a statement. "Today, it became obvious to me that the measures necessary to run a successful campaign would have created unnecessary and painful division within our party. ...
US Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Sudan for sentencing a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, urging Khartoum to repeal its laws banning Muslims from converting. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who was born to a Muslim father, was sentenced to death on May 15 under Islamic sharia law that has been in place since 1983 and outlaws conversions under pain of death. "The United States remains deeply concerned about the conviction and continued imprisonment of Ms Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag," Kerry said in a statement. The top US diplomat said he was "deeply committed" to a better future for Sudan and its people.
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton called upon Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom, echoing the comments made last week by her former boss Barack Obama. Speaking on BBC's Newsnight programme, Clinton said: "I would hate to have you lose Scotland" in the September referendum. "I hope that it doesn't happen but I don't have a vote in Scotland," she added. US President Obama last week suggested that Scotland would be better off remaining part of Britain, ahead of the September 18 vote.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne vowed "radical" planning reforms and more powers for the central bank in an attempt to curb the country's spiralling house prices. Making his keynote speech at London's Mansion House, Osborne announced plans to build up to 200,000 homes, heeding the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which warned excessive demand was fuelling the boom. Osborne also revealed plans to strengthen the Bank of England's ability to impose restrictions on mortgage loan-to-value (LTV) and loan-to-income (LTI) ratios. Despite the IMF warning, Osborne insisted that house prices were of "no immediate cause for alarm", pointing out that house prices are still lower in real terms than they were in 2007.
A US official said Thursday the United States has repatriated a dozen inmates from a secretive military prison in Afghanistan where foreign terror suspects have been held for years without trial. A French national, a Kuwaiti and 10 Pakistani detainees were sent back to their home countries last month from the Parwan prison, the defense official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The move left 38 non-Afghan detainees at the prison. The Defense Department notified Congress of the transfer 10 days beforehand, the official added.
Jihadists moved nearer to Baghdad Thursday after capturing a town just hours to the north, as President Barack Obama said Washington was exploring all options to save Iraq's security forces from collapse. With the militants closing in on the capital, forces from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region took control of Kirkuk, an ethnically divided northern city they have sought to rule for decades against the objections of successive governments in Baghdad. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hosyhar Zebari acknowledged the security forces which Washington invested billions in training and equipping before withdrawing its own troops in 2011, had simply melted away.
A Romanian using the online moniker "Guccifer" was indicted Thursday on US charges of hacking into email accounts of high-profile people including family of former presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush. Marcel Lehel Lazar, 42, is accused of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, cyberstalking and obstruction of justice.
By Susan Cornwell and David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A high-ranking California lawmaker, Kevin McCarthy, emerged on Thursday as the leading contender in the Republican contest to fill one of the top positions in the U.S. Congress, but some of his colleagues complained he was not conservative enough and urged others to jump into the race. House Majority Whip McCarthy has been asking other lawmakers to support his bid to become House of Representatives majority leader to succeed Eric Cantor, who is stepping down after his shock primary election defeat to a little-known challenger from the populist Tea Party movement. Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, who chairs the House Rules Committee, has also said he would run in the party's June 19 election for the number two post in the House. McCarthy, the No. 3 ranking House Republican who is in charge of lining up support for legislation, grabbed early momentum over Sessions by picking up some endorsements.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday stressed that his criticism of Jean-Claude Juncker was not personal but warned that his election as European Commission president would be a "power grab through the backdoor". In an opinion piece published in various European newspapers, Cameron said that the concept of "Spitzenkandidaten" -- whereby the president is elected according to the results of last month's parliamentary elections -- was anti-democratic and risked fanning the flames of euroscepticism. The British premier argued that EU treaties made clear that it was for EU heads of government to propose the candidate to head the European Commission -- the EU's executive -- and not the European Parliament, as under Spitzenkandidaten. "It was not negotiated between the European institutions.
The thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who have journeyed to the United States in recent months have no guarantees of citizenship or legal status, and are prioritized for deportation, officials said Thursday. Three out of four minors who illegally cross the border into the United States come from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The children make the grueling journey of hundreds of miles (kilometers) through Mexico to escape the dire economic conditions and violence in their home countries, and to join relatives in the United States. That's the message," US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told reporters.