Political News from Yahoo

Senate panel to grill Obama's nominee for U.S. health secretary

By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sylvia Mathews Burwell takes center stage on Thursday for the first of two Senate hearings that will determine whether the loyal White House insider will become the next public face of the controversial law known as Obamacare. The path to confirmation as U.S. health secretary is expected to be a smooth one for Burwell, a 48-year-old technocrat who was nominated on April 11 by President Barack Obama to replace outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Last year, Burwell sailed through the Senate on a 96-0 vote to become Obama's budget director.

Obama: 'Disquiet' breeds political cynicism

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a sober political assessment, President Barack Obama told donors Wednesday that disquiet and a sense of frustration in the country is fueling cynicism about government that could hurt Democratic turnout in the November congressional elections.

Obama urges Democrats not to be distracted by 2016 chatter

By Steve Holland LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - President Barack Obama brought his fund-raising prowess to California on Wednesday and urged Democrats not to let increasing attention on the 2016 presidential race distract them from focusing on November 4 congressional elections. Obama issued the warning at the first of five Democratic events he will attend over three days that will raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for use by the party's candidates for the Senate, the House of Representatives and other races. At the Bel Air home of Disney chairman Alan Horn, Obama spoke to a crowd that included actress Barbra Streisand and her husband, actor James Brolin. He exhorted them to help turn back a strong challenge from Republicans who are trying to win control of the Senate and build on their majority in the House.

House panel backs Pentagon on sex assault cases

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon posted a narrow win Wednesday as a House panel endorsed leaving the authority to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes with military commanders.

Obama says 'disquiet' breeds political cynicism

LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Barack Obama says disquiet and a sense of frustration in the country are fueling cynicism about government that could hurt Democratic turnout in the November elections.

Hillary Dropped the Ball on Boko Haram

Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department repeatedly declined to fully go after the terror group responsible for kidnapping hundreds of girls.

Putin: The Cold War Comeback Kid

As in Soviet times, the bigger Moscow’s empire, the more it claims it’s threatened. Nobody should fall for that argument, but some influential Western voices still do.

Is This the Day Odessa Explodes?

The massacre of May 2, when more than 40 people died, has set the stage for a new showdown on the streets this Friday.

U.S. House votes ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a resolution finding former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about her alleged role in the tax agency's tax-exempt targeting controversy. Contempt of Congress charges generally are aimed at forcing officials to produce information to Congress, but legal experts have said they are very hard to enforce in court. Lerner, the former head of the IRS's tax-exempt division, sparked a scandal in May 2013 when she publicly apologized for what she called \"inappropriate\" targeting of conservative political groups applying for tax-exempt status. Republicans, who have a majority in the House of Representatives, have tried to link the White House to the IRS' conduct, but without success.

Hopes for Keystone XL vote fade as talks fail

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bid by supporters of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline to force a vote on the controversial project fell apart Wednesday amid partisan bickering over how the vote should be conducted.

Bill to overhaul NSA data collection clears hurdle in U.S. Congress

A U.S. House of Representatives committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to advance a bill that would end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records, one of the most controversial spy programs revealed a year ago by former contractor Edward Snowden. The House Judiciary committee voted 32-0 to back the measure, which would end the NSA's gathering information about telephone calls and storing them for at least five years. The bill would allow the NSA to collect a person's phone records, and those of two of their contacts, if investigators can convince a judge they have a reasonable suspicion that the person was involved in terrorism. \"This is a historic turn of events in our government's approach to counterterrorism policies,\" Laura Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington Legislation Office, said in a statement.

US synthetic-drug bust nets vast stash

Hundreds of thousands of individually packaged, ready-to-sell synthetic drugs and their ingredients were seized in 29 US states Wednesday as part of a major bust that also netted $20 million in cash and assets. Law enforcement agencies made more than 150 arrests over the course of the wide-ranging sweep, part of a crackdown on designer synthetic drugs by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. \"Many who manufacture, distribute and sell these dangerous synthetic drugs found out first hand today that DEA will target, find and prosecute those who have committed these crimes,\" said DEA administrator Michele Leonhart. The synthetic drugs seized under the DEA's \"Project Synergy\" operation are part of a swelling group of illicit compounds that traffickers have begun marketing in the West in recent years as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner or plant food, a statement by the DEA said.

House votes to hold ex-IRS official in contempt

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans voted Wednesday to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify at a pair of committee hearings about her role in the agency's tea party controversy.

Appeals court delays Wisconsin governor's big win

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors investigating Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported him won a victory Wednesday with a federal appeals court ruling that, at least for now, blocks a judge's ruling that halted the probe.

House calls for special counsel to investigate IRS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a nonbinding resolution calling on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Internal Revenue Service over the way agents handled applications for tax-exempt status.

US to return ancient statue to Cambodia

An ancient statue of a warrior stolen in 1972 and which almost went on the auction block three years ago will be returned to Cambodia, US authorities said Wednesday. The 10th-century sandstone \"Duryodhana bondissant\" was stolen from the Prasat Chen temple at Koh Ker in Cambodia and first sold at auction in London in 1975. It was supposed to have come back on the auction block at Sotheby's in New York in March 2011 but the sale was stopped after Cambodian authorities made an appeal through UNESCO. The Koh Ker site is significant from a religious, historical, and artistic perspective, and the Duryodhana is considered a piece of extraordinary value to the Cambodian people and part of their cultural heritage.

NJ gov tries to revive national ambitions in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fought to revive his presidential aspirations in northern New England on Wednesday, declaring he would not be silenced by scandal while campaigning alongside one of the nation's most endangered Republican governors.

Republicans shouldn't raise money off Benghazi: U.S. lawmaker

By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The new head of a congressional panel investigating the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, criticized on Wednesday some Republicans' use of the deadly incident to raise campaign funds. During an interview on MSNBC's \"Morning Joe\" program, Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina was asked whether he would appeal to his fellow Republicans to stop such fundraising efforts. The next day, an attack on another U.S. facility in Benghazi killed two guards. The National Republican Congressional Committee, which seeks to elect Republicans to the House, showcases Benghazi-related fundraising appeals on its website.

President Obama Surveys Arkansas Tornado Damage

After getting a first-hand look at the tornado damage, President Obama today reassured Arkansas residents that they are not alone and that “your country’s going to be here for you.” “I’m here to make sure that they know and that everybody who’s been affected knows...