Britain's David Cameron headed for defeat at an EU summit Thursday after being abandoned by his allies in a battle to block the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission chief. European Union leaders gather at the World War I killing fields of Ypres in Belgium to kick off two days of fiery talks in what is the most bitter dispute seen in Europe since the height of the euro crisis. With tensions high between Cameron and his European peers, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy is to issue a statement after the dinner. "We will support Juncker's candidacy," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told parliament shortly after Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt made a similar statement before a Swedish parliament committee.
By Annika McGinnis WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama lampooned congressional skepticism over climate change on Wednesday, saying that lawmakers who balk at tackling air pollution are either blind to science or cowed by extremists. In a speech to the League of Conservation Voters, the president enumerated the steps he has taken to slow pollution and rein in emissions that scientists say have trapped heat in the earth's atmosphere. The president mocked those who question the science behind climate change or the urgency of addressing the problem, which has emerged as a legacy issue for his presidency and a polarizing topic in November congressional elections. "Right? I mean, it’s not that hard." Some lawmakers may secretly believe that man-made climate change is real but are afraid to admit so for fear of "being run out of town by a bunch of fringe elements that thinks climate science is a liberal plot", Obama said.
By Jonathan Kaminsky HATTIESBURG Miss. (Reuters) - Tea Party Republicans in Mississippi on Wednesday railed against an election rule that allowed Democrats, many of them black, to tilt a bitterly fought Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff to incumbent Thad Cochran. Tea Party-backed candidate Chris McDaniel, who declined to concede defeat in a fiery election-night speech, said on Wednesday he would decide within days whether to challenge the election results. “We just had the Democrats select the Republican candidate," said Barry Neyrey, a Tea Party activist from Long Beach. "That’s corruption.” The Cochran campaign, which trumpeted the six-term incumbent's track record of steering billions of dollars in federal aid to the state, defended his courtship of black voters as an effort to expand the party's mostly white base.
The Security Council extended for another year the UN mission in Mali, calling on it to prioritize efforts to facilitate peace talks and expand its presence in the north. The maximum level of peacekeepers will remain the same, at 11,200 soldiers and 1,440 police, as will the arrangement under which French soldiers in Mali can lend a hand in cases of serious and imminent danger. According to the resolution, the UN mission, known as MINUSMA, should "expand its presence, including through long-range patrols... in the north of Mali beyond key population centers, notably in areas where civilians are at risk." The UN resolution urged "Malian authorities to launch without delay an inclusive and credible negotiation process," and called on all the armed groups to put down their weapons.
A former U.S. Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a controversy over the tax agency's treatment of Tea Party groups sent emails in which she appears to seek an audit involving a Republican senator, according to documents released on Wednesday by a House of Representatives committee. The emails show former IRS official Lois Lerner received an invitation to an event in 2012 that was meant to go to Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. Grassley apparently received Lerner's invitation by mistake. Lerner, in an email to another IRS official, suggests referring the matter for an audit.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — National Republican leaders trying to appeal to non-white voters are cringing over Senate candidate Chris McDaniel's complaints that Democrats — most of whom are black in Mississippi — voted in the state's GOP Senate runoff and helped six-term incumbent Thad Cochran capture the party nomination.
France strongly attacked the US-based body that assigns internet addresses on Wednesday, saying it was not a fit venue for internet governance and that alternatives should be sought. On Wednesday France failed in a bid to freeze the assigning of the domains, which it believes should be restricted to protect trade agreements on region-specific products like champagne. "ICANN's procedures highlight its inability to take into account the legitimate concerns of states," the French delegation to ICANN's 50th meeting, taking place in London, said in a statement. "Today ICANN is not the appropriate forum to discuss Internet governance."
Human rights activist Salwa Bouguiguis was shot dead by unknown assailants at her home in the restive east Libyan city of Benghazi late Wednesday, hospital and security sources said. "Unknown hooded men wearing military uniforms attacked Mrs Bouguiguis in her home and opened fire on her," said a security official, who did not wish to be named. The victim was taken to hospital in critical condition but died shortly afterwards, a spokesman for the Benghazi medical centre said. Bouguiguis, a lawyer, played an active part in Libya's 2011 revolution which overthrew the regime of Moamer Kadhafi.
Taxi drivers snarled traffic in downtown Washington on Wednesday in protest against smartphone car-hailing services such as Uber, which they say are cutting into their business. Several hundred cabbies took part in the demonstration on wheels spearheaded by the Washington DC Taxi Operators Association, affiliated with the powerful Teamsters union. "All they want is a level playing field," said Teamsters official Ferline Buie, who dropped off a letter to city hall demanding a ban on private sedan services pending fresh regulations. Taxi drivers in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome staged similar protests on June 11, saying unlicensed drivers and chauffeur services using Uber have been chipping away at their client base.
Talks between Argentina, seeking to avoid defaulting on its debt, and hedge fund bondholders are underway but there is not yet any resolution, a New York lawyer confirmed Wednesday. Daniel Pollack, appointed by a US federal judge to preside over the talks, said he met counsel for the parties for several hours Tuesday and that they had communicated with him by telephone over the last two days. Argentina's Economy Minister Axel Kicillof was in New York to discuss his country's debt situation with representatives of the Group of 77 developing nations plus China. New York federal judge Thomas Griesa on Monday named Pollack as "special master" to oversee talks, after Buenos Aires asked him to organize negotiations with its creditors.
The wife of an American contractor imprisoned in Cuba said Wednesday that he was growing more hopeless after his mother's death, warning she fears for his life. Alan Gross, 65, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba in 2011 after being convicted of "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state" for allegedly distributing communications equipment as a contractor for the USAID development aid agency. "I am extremely worried that Alan is going to do something drastic now that his mother is gone," Judy Gross wrote to AFP after visiting her husband. Washington has repeatedly called for Gross's release.