A US congressional panel passed a bill Friday that would impose sanctions on those responsible for human rights abuses against anti-government protesters in Venezuela. The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the \"Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act,\" clearing a first legislative hurdle. The vote was met with applause from dozens of people who traveled to Washington from several US cities to pressure lawmakers, the White House and the Organization of American States to take action against the crackdown on protesters in the crisis-hit South American country. At least 41 people have died and hundreds of others have been injured since students and other opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government took to the streets there in February to protest rampant crime, runaway inflation and shortages of basic goods.
Sen. Rand Paul is now a disciple of the anti-voter ID movement, after the black pastors he met with on Friday showed him the way and the truth about measures that tend to decrease minority voter turnout. After meeting with the pastors, Paul shared the good news with Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times: the GOP needs to \"lay off\" the whole voter ID laws thing, according to Peters. Last month, during a conversation with David Axelrod, a former advisor of President Obama, Paul said he was against the restrictions on early voting passed in Ohio and Wisconsin, according to The Huffington Post.
US House Democrats remained divided Friday over whether to participate in the newly-created panel to investigate the Benghazi attacks of 2012, a probe Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed as a \"political stunt.\" Democratic and Republican staffers huddled behind closed doors to thrash out the terms of the select committee that the House of Representatives approved Thursday in a party line vote. President Barack Obama's Democrats are furious over Republican insistence on re-investigating the terror strike on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya that killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But several Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner say the White House has been \"stonewalling\" and refusing to turn over all Benghazi-related material.
These and other apparent gaffes by the justices during oral arguments have became a source of bemused derision, as tech aficionados, legal experts and others have taken to social media, blogs, YouTube and other outlets to proclaim the justices black-robed techno-fogeys. \"Everyone who's anyone inside that courtroom is most likely an incompetent Luddite,\" Sarah Jeong, a 25-year-old Harvard Law School student, wrote on her personal blog following a recent Supreme Court argument dealing with a copyright dispute over TV online startup Aereo. When it comes to cutting-edge technology, Jeong told Reuters: \"Mom and Dad are the Supreme Court.\" Parker Higgins, a 26-year-old digital rights advocate who works at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, spliced together audio of the Aereo argument for comic effect and posted it on a sound cloud and at YouTube.
ABUJA, Nigeria — On April 14th, more than 250 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, a sleepy rural town in the Northern state of Borno. Boko Haram, an extremist Muslim group which has terrorized Nigeria since the mid-2000s, has claimed responsibility for the abductions. As of now, they have no plans to return the girls. In fact, in a video obtained by Agence France-Presse, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said that the victims will be sold. “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace,” Shekau declared. “Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell.” Rumor has that some of the girls have already been sold into “marriage” to men in neighboring countries for as little as $12.
US Secretary of State John Kerry believes drawing up the borders of a future Palestinian state and agreeing to security arrangements for Israel will be \"essential\" if peace talks resume, the top US negotiator has said. In his most candid public comments since the nine-month negotiations collapsed last month, Martin Indyk described the behind-the-scenes atmosphere between Israelis and Palestinians and voiced hopes the talks would resume soon. Speaking late Thursday at the Washington Institute think tank, Indyk said although the two sides both showed \"flexibility\" it was clear they \"do not feel the pressing need to make the gut-wrenching compromises necessary to achieve peace.\" In the end despite nine months of \"serious and intensive negotiations,\" Indyk said it was \"easier for the Palestinians to sign conventions and appeal to international bodies in their supposed pursuit of 'justice.'\"
Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Crimea, the Ukrainian territory recently annexed by Moscow, will only exacerbate tensions, the White House warned Friday. \"We do not accept Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. Such a visit will only serve to fuel tensions,\" National Security Council spokesman Laura Magnuson said.
President Barack Obama on Friday will announce executive orders to increase the use of solar panels, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and train more people to work in the renewable energy field, the White House said. The president, who will make the announcement during a visit to Wal-Mart in Mountain View, California, will also highlight commitments by corporations to lift solar generation at their facilities. Wal-Mart, Apple Inc, Yahoo Inc, Google Inc and Ikea were among the companies making such commitments.
By Gabriel Debenedetti WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former White House aide to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, on Friday joined the Ready For Hillary group that is urging former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016. Emanuel, who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives, will headline two fundraisers for the group in June. \"I've seen firsthand how Hillary has inspired women and men, and girls and boys, here in America and across the globe, and I know that as president, she would continue to move our country forward,\" Emanuel said in a statement from Ready For Hillary.
San Antonio (Philippines) (AFP) - Scores of US and Filipino marines launched mock assaults on a South China Sea beach in the Philippines Friday, as a row escalates between Beijing and its smaller neighbours over the strategic waters. The drills, part of annual war games between the two countries, came after Vietnam said its vessels were rammed by Chinese ships protecting a deep-sea oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam's coast. The flare-up -- which saw counter-accusations from Beijing which said its own vessels had been repeatedly attacked -- sparked concern from Japan, the United States, and the European Union about deteriorating security in the region. The US-Philippine exercises -- involving about 5,500 troops -- included Friday's drills on a beach about 220 kilometres (135 miles) from Scarborough Shoal, which China took control of two years ago after a stand-off with the much-weaker Philippine forces.