NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal securities regulators are probing whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration improperly diverted funds from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for use on transport projects in New Jersey, the publication Main Justice reported on Friday. The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into New Jersey's use of up to $1.8 billion in tax-exempt bond financing from the Port Authority to fix a bridge and roadways feeding into the New Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel, Main Justice reported, citing unnamed sources. ...
Washington (United States) (AFP) - Russian warplanes violated Ukraine's airspace several times in the past 24 hours, a Pentagon spokesman said Friday, in the latest sign of a mounting confrontation between Moscow and Kiev. "I can confirm that on several occasions in the last 24 hours, Russian aircraft have entered Ukrainian airspace," said Colonel Steven Warren. He did not provide more details, including where the incidents occurred or what kind of Russian planes were involved. Warren urged Russia to take "immediate steps to de-escalate the situation."
(Reuters) - Two senior Internal Revenue Service executives who were instrumental in the rollout of President Barack Obama's new healthcare law are retiring, according to an internal IRS memorandum obtained by Reuters on Friday. Sarah Hall Ingram will step down at the end of April and James Taylor by the end of May, said the memo sent to IRS staff on behalf of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Taylor has been senior director of Affordable Care Act operations and Ingram, director of services and enforcement in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) office. ...
Federal prosecutors intend to bring criminal charges against Michael Grimm, a Republican U.S. congressman from New York who has been under investigation for campaign finance violations, his lawyer said on Friday. Attorney William McGinley condemned the expected charges as a "politically driven vendetta" against the congressman, who generated headlines in January when he threatened to throw a television reporter off a balcony after an interview in the U.S. Capitol building. Grimm's confrontation with the reporter, which was caught on camera, took place on the evening of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to Congress. "I will break you in half," Grimm told the reporter with cable channel NY1 News, who had asked the Republican about the federal investigation into possible campaign finance violations.
The US guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook has left the Black Sea, two weeks after it was deployed there to reassure Eastern European allies worried by the Ukraine crisis, the Navy said Friday. The presence of the warship, which departed on Thursday, was an "example of the US Navy's commitment to enhancing interoperability at sea, serving as a cornerstone of NATO's military strength, while demonstrating the US and allied forces' capability to provide the right presence, in the right place, at the right time." Word of the Donald Cook's departure came as Kiev accused Moscow of seeking to trigger a "third world war." During its stint in the Black Sea, the destroyer carried out exercises with the Romanian navy, as well as with the American frigate USS Taylor.
SpaceX has filed a lawsuit against the US Air Force over its decision to issue multibillion dollar national security launch contracts with a single company, CEO Elon Musk said Friday. The US military spends billions yearly with United Launch Alliance, a merger of aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to launch government satellites. "This is not right," Musk told reporters, describing the policy of "uncompeted procurement" by the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. "SpaceX has decided to file suit and protest the Air Force EELV block buy," Musk said.
Suicide levels, however, have not dramatically changed even though large numbers of US forces are no longer engaged in combat in Afghanistan and have withdrawn from Iraq. Although the overall number had declined for 2013, suicides increased five percent among those in the US Army National Guard and Reserves, the report said. The relentless pace of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade has often been cited as a likely trigger for the suicide problem in the armed forces, but the latest figures failed to support that hypothesis. When fighting peaked for American troops in Iraq, the number of suicides reached 268 in 2008 and 309 in 2009, figures that are similar to the past two years.
By Euan Rocha MISSISSAUGA, Ontario (Reuters) - Canada remains confident Washington will ultimately approve the Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast, two prominent cabinet ministers said on Friday, adding that the latest U.S. delay is political and not based on environmental concerns. In his first public remarks on the controversial project, the country's new energy minister, Greg Rickford, said he hoped the Obama administration will "depoliticize" its decision on Keystone XL and give it the green light. "On the Keystone, we're still very hopeful ... that this will go ahead sooner rather than later, and it will simply add to the economic benefits of pipeline transmission of energy products," Rickford told reporters after a speech in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga on Friday. "Obviously we hope sooner rather than later that this is depoliticized, if you will, and that the communities along the pipeline, which include Canada and the United States, can reap the tremendous economic benefits of Keystone," he said.