Political News from Yahoo

Clinton airs insider's take on world leaders

Russia's Vladimir Putin remains "fixated" on reviving the Soviet empire, China's Hu Jintao was "aloof" and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a "bellicose peacock," Hillary Clinton dishes about key world leaders in her new book. The former secretary of state presides Tuesday over the closely-managed rollout of her new memoir, "Hard Choices," which many observers interpret as an unofficial kickoff of her prospective 2016 presidential campaign.

Clinton says Chinese dissident changed tune

Hillary Clinton in her new book passionately defended her role in the release of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, criticizing Republican assertions that the United States pressured him. In "Hard Choices," the former secretary of state and potential presidential contender credited US efforts to nurture relations with China with allowing an atmosphere in which Beijing allowed the blind-since-childhood activist to move to the United States. Clinton credited her assistant secretary of state for East Asia, the flamboyant academic Kurt Campbell, with his role in the episode and said at one point he volunteered to resign when the talks almost fell apart. Chen, who enraged authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilizations under China's one-child-only policy, escaped from house arrest in April 2012 and fled to the US embassy days ahead of a visit by Clinton.

Social inequality in San Francisco spurs verbal brawl among VCs

By Sarah McBride SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ongoing tensions over how to handle social inequality in San Francisco sparked an a rare outburst among venture capitalists Monday. Facebook Inc executive-turned-venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya called for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to resign due to a "very stupid city government," spurring fellow venture capitalist Ron Conway to jump to his feet and start yelling. "How dare you!" shouted Conway from the rear of the auditorium at the end of a discussion on inequality at Bloomberg's Next Big Thing conference, held at an exclusive resort just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. The city's role in bolstering technology, including giving tax breaks to Twitter Inc and other companies, has come under fire in recent months as complaints rise about income inequality.

Brazil enacts 20 percent quotas for blacks in federal jobs

Brasília (AFP) - Brazil approved a law Monday creating 20 percent quotas for mixed race and black Brazilians in government jobs, in a country where more than half of the population has African roots. "We have started this change in the racial composition of public officials in the federal administration so it will be more representative of the Brazilian population," said President Dilma Rousseff during a ceremony for the enactment of the law. The quotas expire in 10 years and applies to federal agencies and foundations as well as state-controlled companies like oil giant Petrobras and banks like Caixa Economica Federal and Banco de Brasil. However, the quotas do not apply to the legislative and judicial branches, which would require separate legal initiatives.

White House-Congress rift over Bergdahl deal deepens

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A political storm over the trade of five Taliban inmates for a captured American soldier intensified on Monday when Obama administration officials told U.S. lawmakers that up to 90 people within the administration - but no members of Congress - were told in advance about the swap. "It strikes me as unfortunate that they could have 80 to 90 people in the administration aware of what was happening and not be able to trust a single Republican or Democrat in the House or the Senate," Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, a member of the House of Representatives Republican leadership, told reporters after leaving a briefing on the exchange. The White House has been trying to appease angry lawmakers since President Barack Obama announced on May 31 that Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been exchanged for the five inmates from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. House Republicans said they planned an investigation of the exchange deal.

Supreme Court refuses to hear California prison overcrowding case

The Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal of a court order that requires California to ensure that disabled inmates who are housed in county jails to ease crowding in state prisons receive appropriate accommodations. The court’s denial highlighted tensions between the most populous U.S. state and federal courts about crowding and conditions in California's troubled prison system. The state has been under court orders to reduce its prison population since 2009 and has sought to comply partly by funneling some non-violent offenders to county jurisdiction. In 2012, a U.S. District Court judge ordered state officials to notify the counties when inmates have disabilities entitling them to accommodations under federal law while in jail.

Tribal leaders welcome Holder's voting access plan

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday his office will consult with tribes across the country to develop ways to increase voting access for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

House panel to investigate prisoner swap

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Armed Services Committee will investigate the Obama administration's swap of an American prisoner held for five years for five Taliban leaders that caused a political firestorm over the lack of congressional notification and fears the high-level Taliban could return to the Afghanistan battlefield.

Audit shows 100,000 U.S. veterans face long waits for healthcare

By David Lawder and Emily Stephenson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 100,000 veterans are experiencing waits of more than 90 days for appointments at medical centers run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to an internal audit released by the troubled agency on Monday. The survey revealed that a scandal over cover-ups of long wait times at VA clinics, during which some veterans are alleged to have died, was broader and deeper than initially thought, prompting a new round of recriminations from lawmakers and veterans groups. The VA said it found that in mid-May, 57,436 veterans were waiting for appointments that could not be scheduled within 90 days, while about 43,000 had appointments more than 90 days in the future. Over the past 10 years, 63,869 new enrollees in the VA healthcare system had requested appointments that were never scheduled, VA said.

Audit: More than 57,000 await first VA appointment

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 57,000 U.S. military veterans have been waiting 90 days or more for their first VA medical appointments, and an additional 64,000 appear to have fallen through the cracks, never getting appointments after enrolling, the government said Monday in a report newly demonstrating how deep and widespread the problem is.

More Wisconsin gay couples wed, state appeals ruling

By Brendan O'Brien MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday refused a state request to halt same-sex marriages in Wisconsin, where hundreds of gay couples have tied the knot since she declared late last week that its ban was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb denied the request from Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who has appealed her decision and asked that weddings be halted to reduce confusion. Hundreds of gay couples have married in Wisconsin's two most populous counties, Milwaukee and Dane, home to the state capital, Madison, since Crabb's ruling, while clerks in many other counties have not issued licenses. Van Hollen had sought the stay from Crabb on Friday and on Monday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to halt gay marriages in Wisconsin until appeals are concluded.

Florida Gov. courts Hispanic voters with switch

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — When Rick Scott made his maverick push for Florida governor four years ago, the Republican took a hard line against illegal immigration that he used to assail his main GOP rival for the job. But with a likely tight re-election campaign looming, the incumbent is making a concentrated push to win over Hispanic voters.

Hillary Clinton says Benghazi probes won't deter possible White House bid

Hillary Clinton said the latest round of congressional investigations into the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, would not deter her from seeking the presidency. "Actually, it is more of a reason to run because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball," Clinton told ABC News. And I view this as really apart from, even a diversion from the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world," Clinton said in a televised excerpt from an interview airing on Monday with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. Republicans have accused Clinton, who was then secretary of State, of not doing more to ensure the safety of Americans in Benghazi.

4 of ‘Taliban 5’ Will Fight Again

Obama’s top intelligence officers warned that four out of the five Taliban prisoners swapped for Bowe Bergdahl would return to the battlefield.

Ailing Zuma misses first meeting of new S. Africa cabinet

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, who spent time in hospital over the weekend suffering from exhaustion, will miss his new government's first meeting from Tuesday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said. "President Zuma will miss the cabinet meeting and continue to rest at home this week," said Ramaphosa, who is standing in for Zuma during his recuperation. Zuma left hospital late Sunday, the day after he was admitted for routine tests.

Audit reveals 'systemic' access to care woes for US veterans

An audit on health care access for US veterans released Monday confirmed the existence of fake waiting lists, prompting a top official to slam "systemic" problems for America's wounded warriors seeking treatment. The report is the latest revelation in a political scandal that last month led to the resignation of Eric Shinseki as Veterans Affairs secretary. The audit showed that 13 percent of scheduling staff got instructions from supervisors or others "to enter a date different than what the veteran had requested in the appointment scheduling system" to conceal wait times in official statistics. "In some cases, pressures were placed on schedulers to utilize unofficial lists or engage in inappropriate practices in order to make waiting times appear more favorable," according to a fact sheet provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Panama arrests fugitive Ecuadoran ex-lawmaker

Police in Panama on Monday arrested a fugitive former opposition lawmaker from Ecuador who is wanted in his homeland for complicity to murder. Tito Galo Lara was taken into custody in the province of Veraguas, police spokeswoman Mara Rivera told AFP. Galo Lara, shackled and wearing a bullet-proof vest as he was taken into the prosecutor's offices in Panama City, shouted that Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa "is trying to kill me." "I am a victim of political persecution, because I reported corruption inside Correa's government," Galo Lara said to the gathered reporters.

Israel's Lieberman slams ministers over policy cacophony

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday lashed out at fellow ministers for espousing contradictory solutions to the conflict with the Palestinians, maintaining Israel needed one binding diplomatic plan. During back-to-back presentations, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel should seek to resume peace talks with the Palestinians despite the establishment of a Hamas-backed unity government; Interior Minister Gideon Saar spoke in favour of maintaining the status quo; Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called for the annexation of parts of the West Bank.