Political News from Yahoo

Obama says US should offer paid maternity leave

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and offer paid leave for mothers of newborns.

VA challenged on handling of whistleblower charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top federal investigator has identified "a troubling pattern of deficient patient care" at Veterans Affairs facilities around the country that she says were pointed out by whistleblowers but downplayed by the department.

Court releases memo justifying drone strike on US cleric

A New York court on Monday released an edited version of a US government memo legally justifying a drone attack that targeted and killed an American in Yemen in 2011. Radical US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted and killed in the drone attack in September of that year. Dual Pakistani-US citizen Samir Khan died in the same attack. Awlaki's teenage son, Abdul Rahman, was killed in a separate US drone strike in Yemen in October 2011.

Justices rebuff NJ's effort on sports betting

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a ban on sports gambling in New Jersey, rebuffing an attempt to bring betting on professional and college sporting events to Atlantic City casinos and the state's racetracks.

Obama warns Putin of new 'costs' for Russian stance on Ukraine

US President Barack Obama on Monday warned Vladimir Putin that Russia would face new sanctions if it failed to both stop the flow of weapons into Ukraine and halt support for separatists. The White House said that Obama delivered the warning in a telephone call with the Russian leader, in which he called for "concrete actions" by Moscow to de-escalate the situation. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama used the call to drive home consistent US and Western warnings on Ukraine -- that Russia must stop supporting separatists in the east of the country and stop the flow of weapons across the border.

Iraq offers legal assurances to US advisers in Iraq

Iraq has offered legal guarantees to shield US special forces operatives sent to the country as advisers to help its forces battle Sunni radicals who have seized tracts of territory. The White House said Monday that the guarantee had been provided by the Iraqis in a diplomatic note to Washington. The failure of Iraq's parliament to endorse a Status of Forces deal with Washington led to the complete exodus of all American troops from Iraq at the end of 2011. Many of Obama's political opponents say their exit fostered a power vacuum which the Sunni group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has exploited in a rapid advance across the country.

Court mostly backs US effort to cut greenhouse gases

The Supreme Court on Monday nibbled away at President Barack Obama's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions but broadly upheld the effort to fight climate change. Responding to a lawsuit by energy businesses, the top US court took issue with one root argument of the Obama administration -- that the Environmental Protection Agency has the power under the landmark Clean Air Act to restrict the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.

Iraq’s ‘Sunni war of liberation’

What looked like a blitz by Islamic extremists was actually a broader, long-planned sectarian counteroffensive that now threatens to trap the U.S. in the middle of a civil war.

EU to ban imports from annexed Crimea

EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to ban imports from Crimea, reiterating that the European Union would never recognise Russia's "illegal" annexation of Ukraine territory. Ministers "decided to prohibit the import into the EU of goods originating from Crimea or Sevastopol," unless the Ukraine government certified them, a statement said. The EU has steadily expanded sanctions against Russians and Ukrainians implicated in the annexation of Crimea, hitting them with asset freezes and travel bans.

Israel arrests 37 in West Bank as manhunt drags on

Israeli troops detained 37 Palestinians in the West Bank during the night as its arrest campaign entered its 11th day on Monday, with no sign of three teenagers thought kidnapped by Hamas. Since the youths disappeared from a hitchhiking stop in the southern West Bank on June 12, Israel has been rounding up hundreds of Palestinians in a bid to find them, while also dealing a crushing blow to the Islamist movement's West Bank network. "Overnight, the forces detained 37 suspects and searched 80 locations, specifically in the area north west of Hebron, Beit Awwa (southwest of Hebron) and also in (the northern city of) Jenin," an army spokeswoman said. So far, troops have arrested 361 people, among them 250 Hamas members and 57 who were freed during a 2011 prisoner swap deal to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, a soldier held in Gaza for five years by Hamas, the army said.

Al-Jazeera sentence 'chilling and draconian': Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday condemned an Egyptian court's "deeply disturbing" decision to sentence three Al-Jazeera journalists to jail terms of at least seven years. "Today's conviction is obviously a chilling and draconian sentence," Kerry told journalists during an unannounced visit to Baghdad, which came a day after he visited Egypt. "Injustices like these simply cannot stand if Egypt is to move forward in the way that President (Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi and Foreign Minister (Sameh) Shoukri told me just yesterday that they aspire to see their country advance," Kerry said, in a statement. An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced three of the network's journalists to jail terms ranging from seven to 10 years, accusing them of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

U.S. top court mostly upholds Obama bid to curb carbon emissions

By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday trimmed the Obama administration’s power to curb greenhouse gases under a long-running air pollution program in a decision that means most major facilities, including power plants and refineries, will continue to be regulated. On a 7-2 vote, the court rejected an industry-backed argument that most emitting facilities should not be regulated for greenhouse gases under one particular air pollution program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "It bears mention that EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case," Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, said in a statement he read in court.

US urges China to free up currency ahead of talks

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew pressed China Monday to speed up the liberalization of the renminbi ahead of the two countries' economic conference next month. Lew told Vice Premier Wang Yang of "the need for China to move more rapidly toward a market-determined exchange rate" in a telephone discussion on the bilateral relationship, the Treasury said. The US says the renminbi is deeply undervalued and needs to float according to market forces to help right the two-way trade gap, which is deeply skewed in China's favor.

US support to Iraq will be 'intense, sustained': Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry vowed Monday that the United States would provide "intense" support to Iraq to help it battle a militant offensive. "The support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq’s leaders take the steps needed to bring the country together it will be effective," Kerry told reporters after a day of meetings in Baghdad. Kerry made the remarks at the US embassy in Baghdad, in the heavily-fortified Green Zone, after talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other leaders from across the political and communal spectrum. A major militant offensive, led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but involving a raft of other Sunni groups as well, began in Iraq's main northern city Mosul on June 9.

US still won't back ban on landmines

The United States is still not ready to commit to an international treaty banning landmines which has been signed by more than 160 countries, a US official said on Monday. Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention are being urged at a conference in Mozambique to commit to ensuring no armed forces anywhere on earth use anti-personnel mines by 2025.

Germany shrugs off criticism over Siemens' failed Alstom bid

Germany's government on Monday rejected criticism it had insufficiently backed industrial giant Siemens in a bidding war for a stake in France's Alstom, which opted for US rival GE's offer instead. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said "in principle, as we have repeatedly said, decisions about possible industrial cooperation ... are the responsibility of the enterprises involved". France said Sunday it would take a 20-percent stake in Alstom, while the engineering conglomerate has accepted General Electric's 12.35-billion-euro ($16.8 billion) offer for its energy business. The French government, which had earlier encouraged a Siemens bid, said Friday it favoured GE's bid over Siemens' joint offer with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Clinton leads GOP field in Iowa, but Christie is inching back: poll

If the 2016 presidential election were held today, Hillary Clinton would have the edge on any of her possible Republican challengers in Iowa, a new Quinnipiac University poll finds. But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose star was dimmed considerably by the so-called Bridge-gate scandal, is inching back into the 2016 picture.