Texas Governor Rick Perry has said he "stepped right in it" when he compared homosexuality to alcoholism as something that can be fought against despite genetic disposition. The Republican who is weighing another presidential campaign in 2016 after a gaff-prone first attempt in 2012, did not actually apologized for the remarks, but instead told a lunch hosted by the Christian Science Monitor newspaper on Thursday he should have stuck to a message of inclusion and jobs. Perry was asked at an appearance in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club of California on June 11 whether he believes homosexuality was a disorder, according to local media reports.
The US House of Representatives approved a bill that would restrict the electronic surveillance powers of the National Security Agency (NSA). For now, however, the bill will have no effect on the NSA as it has not been debated by the Senate. It wants to embrace a court ruling and bar the National Security Agency from using personal electronic information from US citizens without a prior court order. As it currently stands, under the so-called Prism program, the NSA focuses on foreign targets on the Internet via Facebook, Gmail and other services.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Russia's Vladimir Putin to discuss a plan to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, the second late night phone conversation between the leaders this week, the Kremlin said. "Poroshenko informed the Russian head of state regarding the main points of his plan to regulate the situation in south-east Ukraine," the Kremlin said in a statement overnight Thursday. Putin gave "a series of comments" on the plan stressing an "immediate end to the military operation" that was launched by Kiev against pro-Russian separatist militia in Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Ukraine's presidency said that Poroshenko "outlined the key positions and the timeline for realisation of the peace plan for the situation in the east of the country," stressing the need for hostages to be freed by the separatists.
A New Zealand-based photographer attempting to fly a drone above Beijing's ancient Forbidden City -- which sits next to China's top-secret leadership compound -- says he has had his plans thwarted by police. Trey Ratcliff, who used a camera attached to a remote-controlled helicopter near the popular tourist site and former residence of China's emperors, said on his website that he was briefly detained by police. The Forbidden City is directly next to Zhongnanhai, the high-security compound where some of China's top ruling Communist party leaders live and hold meetings.
By Mike McDonald GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden travels to Guatemala on Friday to discuss the rising tide of unaccompanied Central American minors crossing the U.S. border, but he is likely to face pressure from local leaders to improve migrant rights in the United States. Biden will meet the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador as well as top officials from Honduras and Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong as the region seeks to solve a problem that has hit the U.S. border regions hard this year. Responding to what President Barack Obama has called an urgent humanitarian crisis, the U.S. Congress on Tuesday advanced legislation boosting funds by as much as $2.28 billion to handle a surge of foreign children entering the United States illegally. U.S. data show that between October and May more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the U.S., nearly double the number in the previous year.
By Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and wife Michelle both worked minimum-wage jobs before they got law degrees: a character-building experience they said they also want their teenage daughters to share. The president scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, waited tables at an assisted-living facility for seniors and also worked as a painter. "I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it's like to do that real hard work," Michelle Obama said in an interview with Parade magazine, slated to run on Sunday. "But that's what most folks go through every single day." The first couple has taken pains to keep their daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, out of the public eye while in the White House.
By Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday will announce a rule that makes legally married same-sex couples eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act in all 50 states, a White House official said. Currently, legally married couples are eligible for those benefits if they reside in a state in which same-sex marriage is legal. Obama is directing the Department of Labor to propose a rule extending the FMLA rights even to states where gay unions are not legal. The rule is being issued as Attorney General Eric Holder announces the results of a review of U.S. laws in the wake of the landmark 2013 Supreme Court Windsor decision that held that the survivor of a same-sex couple could claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses.
Sunny Sarajevo was in festive mood on June 28, 1914 for the visit of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. By 11 o'clock, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire would be dead, an assassination that plunged Europe into four years of horrific conflict that killed millions. Armed with bombs and guns and blending into the crowd along the archduke's route were half a dozen Bosnian Serb nationalists bent on freedom from Austro-Hungarian rule. The night before the group had been partying in Sarajevo cafes and Gavrilo Princip, the sallow-faced 19-year-old who would shoot the archduke and his wife, even had a date with a young girl called Jelena Jezdimirovic.
US Vice President Joe Biden travels to Guatemala on Friday to discuss the growing numbers of unaccompanied minors from Central America and Mexico illegally trying to cross the US border. US officials have called the tidal wave of children arriving to the United States alone after making the treacherous journey a "humanitarian crisis" and have pledged special assistance -- but not to let them stay. Biden will meet with the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as a senior representative from Honduras's government and Mexico's interior secretary to "develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of unlawful migration from Central America," the White House said.
By Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama spoke on Thursday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto about a strategy to deal with a flood of children coming from Central America to the United States, the White House said. Obama "welcomed the opportunity to work in close cooperation with Mexico to develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of unlawful migration from Central America," the White House said. Responding to what Obama calls an urgent humanitarian crisis, Congress on Tuesday advanced legislation significantly increasing funds to handle a surge of foreign children entering the United States illegally.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Congress faces more big fights over funding for highway construction and government agencies in the coming months as newly elected Republican leaders in the House of Representatives work to soothe the concerns of the party's right flank. Representatives Kevin McCarthy, elected majority leader, and Steve Scalise, elected majority whip, will be under pressure to make good on promises to give rank-and-file Republicans more say over legislation they bring to the floor for votes. That is likely to mean a tougher negotiating line with Senate Democrats over spending issues, and bills that are more in line with conservative principles. "It opens the door for another fiscal standoff," said Chris Krueger, a former Republican House staffer now with Guggenheim Securities in Washington.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major blow to efforts to get Congress' troubled budget process back on track, the Senate's top Democrat yanked a $180 billion spending measure from the Senate floor Thursday after Republicans protested a plan that would have denied them the chance to more easily win changes to the measure.