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At White House, Uruguay president urges U.S. to become bilingual

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Uruguay President Jose Mujica, meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama, on Monday urged the United States to become bilingual, joking that immigrants from Latin America would fill the country with Spanish speakers. \"And you will have to become a bilingual country ... because the strength of Latin women is admirable and they will fill this country with people who speak Spanish and Portuguese, too,\" he said. The effort is stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Today in Forty-Five Seconds

Boko Haram makes prisoner swap demands, Beyonce's sister attacks Jay Z, the Center for Disease Control confirms a second case of MERS in the U.S., and other major stories from today.

Kerry to meet Abbas in London on Thursday

US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in London this week, the first time since peace talks collapsed last month, officials said Monday. \"Secretary Kerry will meet with president Abbas in London on Thursday,\" State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, having earlier denied the two men had scheduled talks. Kerry will be in London for a meeting on Thursday about the three-year conflict in Syria. Kerry last met Abbas in Amman in late March, and had planned to return to Ramallah for further talks a few days later when Israel made a surprise announcement of plans for 700 new settlements and refused to release a last tranche of Palestinian prisoners.

US hails 'inspiring' Indian polls, will work with next leader

The United States on Monday hailed \"the inspiring example\" of democracy in action in India, congratulating the South Asian nation for its record elections in which more than 550 million people voted. Washington also pledged to work with \"the leaders chosen by the Indian people,\" State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, as exit polls tipped a win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, who was long boycotted by the US until earlier this year. India had organized \"the largest-ever free and fair democratic election in human history,\" Psaki told reporters. The polls were \"an inspiring example of the power of the democratic process in action, and the United States, like so many others around the world, has great admiration and respect for the vibrancy, diversity and resilience of India's democracy.\"

Anti-LGBT Activists Had a Very Bad Weekend

Friday: A Court in Arkansas Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage.  AP. Susan Farr, left, andShelly Butler were first to file paperwork for a marriage license at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock, Ark. Surprise! Late on Friday, Arkansas (at least temporarily) became the 18th state to legalize same-sex marriage, with a state court order overturning a voter-approved ban that was passed a decade ago. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza wrote in his decision that \"the exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent,\" placing his ruling in line with an avalanche of court rulings in favor of marriage equality over the past year.  The state will appeal, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced over the weekend. Meet the 1st #gay couple married in #Arkansas! Their witness was Cheryl Maples, lawyer whose case brought down ban.

BNP chief seeks to trim US criminal penalties: source

The head of French bank BNP Paribas met with top US officials last week seeking lower penalties for violating US sanctions laws, a person familiar with the matter said Monday. US prosectors have told BNP Paribas they want France's largest publicly traded bank to plead guilty to charges it did business with sanctioned parties in Iran, Sudan and elsewhere; BNP chief executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe expressed grave concerns to regulators and prosecutors about lodging a guilty plea, in part because it could endanger the bank's license for operating in the US, according to the source, who confirmed key elements of a story in The New York Times. Bonnafe offered to plead guilty on behalf of the bank's BNP Paribas USA subsidiary, but US regulators rejected that proposal, the person added.

US Republicans harden positions on climate change

Despite President Barack Obama's renewed push to tackle climate change, many American politicians see a tougher stance against anti-pollution standards as a vote-winner in the race to replace him. Even as confirmed that he thinks he is ready to run, Republican presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio rejected the scientific consensus that human activity is the main cause of climate change. Republican lawmakers say Obama is using the threat of rising sea levels, stronger storms and increased wildfires as excuses to implement restrictions that would harm the American economy. With a sharply divided Congress unlikely to take up climate change legislation this year, Obama is forging ahead with steps on his own, such as tightening emissions standards for power plants.

Art’s Bad Boy Is All Grown Up

Dan Colen’s antics in the early aughts solidified his place as one of art's legendary troublemakers. He has sobered up and moved upstate, but his work is still as edgy and provocative as ever.

Nearly 30 US personnel assisting Nigerian search

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says the U.S. team assisting the Nigerian government's search for nearly 300 abducted schoolgirls is made up of nearly 30 people drawn from the State and Defense departments, as well as the FBI.

Uruguay president decries tobacco 'murder' in Obama talks

Uruguay's President Jose Mujica warned US President Barack Obama on Monday of the mass \"murder\" of smokers across the world, highlighting his nation's legal battle to preserve tough anti-tobacco laws. Mujica met Obama in the Oval Office for talks focusing on wider US-Uruguayan relations and issues including education, trade and economic issues. But he made a point of bringing up Uruguay's tough restrictions on smoking, which have led to it being sued for $25 million by US tobacco giant Philip Morris at the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Mujica told Obama, a reformed smoker, that eight million people a year were dying from tobacco-related illnesses, as the two leaders held a photo-op in the Oval Office.

First lady praises her mom at Mother's Day event

WASHINGTON (AP) — Extending the Mother's Day celebration by a day, Michelle Obama on Monday saluted military mothers for the sacrifices they make both for their families and their country, and she honored her own mother as the person who keeps her "standing up straight on my feet."

Outside group hits Grimes on coal, Obama

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A new ad from an independent political group is giving voters a peek of the unrelenting barrage of negative ads linking likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes with the as-unpopular-as-ever President Barack Obama.

US 'combing' new Nigerian schoolgirls video for clues

US experts assisting the search for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls are closely examining a new video for clues to their whereabouts, American officials said Monday. \"Our intelligence experts are combing through every detail of the video for clues that might help ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls,\" State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. \"We have no reason to question its authenticity,\" she added after AFP obtained a new video said to be of about 130 of the girls kidnapped last month by the Islamic militant Boko Haram group. In the video, the group's leader Abubakar Shekau said the girls may be released once Nigeria frees all the Boko Haram prisoners it has in custody.

The Hunt for Madeleine McCann’s Grave

The little English girl who disappeared in Portugal seven years ago would be turning 11 today. While her parents mark the occasion at home, cops are starting a new search for body.

Obama meets with Uruguay's leader at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama lauded trade and commercial ties between the U.S. and Uruguay Monday during his meeting with the South American nation's president.

US VP Biden to visit Cyprus in peace push

Cyprus confirmed on Monday that US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive on the divided island later this month to help push forward the UN-sponsored peace process. Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told state radio that Biden has accepted an invitation from President Nicos Anastasiades and that preparations were being made for the visit. He said the exact dates of the trip will be discussed on Tuesday in Washington between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides. The official Cyprus News Agency said he will encourage confidence-building measures such as allowing experts to enter the Turkish-controlled ghost town of Varosha to prepare a master plan for its revival.

Drone kills six Qaeda suspects in Yemen 'war on terror'

A drone strike killed six Al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen's east Monday, the first such raid since government troops launched their biggest offensive on the jihadists in two years, tribesmen said. In the capital Sanaa, the US embassy announced the mission \"will remain closed for consular services through May 15,\" adding that it could remain shut for even longer depending on the situation. The pilotless aircraft deployed over eastern Yemen on Monday targeted a vehicle near Al-Husun, a village in Marib province, killing at least six \"Al-Qaeda members\", tribal sources told AFP. The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert programme.

Energy bill caught up in Keystone XL dispute

WASHINGTON (AP) — Days after President Barack Obama touted executive actions aimed at increasing energy efficiency, a bill with similar goals is expected to fall victim to partisan gridlock in the Senate.