Political News from Yahoo

Arabs mostly give Obama negative 2014 report card

Arabs believe the Obama administration has little commitment to a Palestinian state, should not intervene militarily in Syria and mostly failed to support Egypt's interim leaders, a new poll released Tuesday showed. Five years after President Barack Obama's landmark speech in Cairo aimed at re-setting ties with the Arab world, the poll revealed that while support for Obama, which had fallen in recent years, is on the rise again among most Arabs it still remains below an average of 50 percent. Zogby Research Services polled about 7,000 people across six nations as well as the Palestinian territories in May for its annual survey, focusing on some of the most pressing issues facing the Arab world in 2014, including the negotiations to rein in Iran's nuclear program, which most broadly supported. Just weeks after the latest US effort to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed, the poll found most Arabs "believe that the United States is not even-handed in its approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making."

Turkey's polarising Erdogan headed for presidency

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to announce his candidature for presidential elections in August despite deepening concern over his polarising rule. Already in his third term as prime minister -- the maximum permitted under his Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s rules -- Erdogan has made no secret of his ambition to run for president. Don't make me say it," deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc told journalists on Sunday. But while a few other names have circulated for the presidency -- including deputy prime ministers Ali Babacan and Besir Atalay, and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan -- all are Erdogan loyalists.

Weakened Hamas cedes power to save face

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Isolated in the region and facing a major economic crisis in Gaza, Hamas ceded power to gain breathing space and recuperate, and will remain in the background politically, analysts said. Gaza's Hamas government stepped down on Monday after a new unity government took oath in Ramallah, the first fruits of a surprise April deal between the Islamist movement and the Western-backed PLO, which is dominated by the rival Fatah faction. The resignation ends Hamas' seven-year tenure of political authority in the besieged Strip, an experience that ultimately weakened the movement. "Hamas gave in, either from a genuine desire for reconciliation or from a lack of options, and it still needs time to repair the damage sustained from being in power," said Adnan Abu Amer, politics professor at Gaza's Ummah University.

No sleeping on the job, says State Department

Despite a promise from the US ambassador to London to look into creating nap rooms in the American embassy, stuffy State Department officials Tuesday nixed the idea. Ambassador Matthew Barzun was only being, well, "diplomatic" when he told Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington that he would consider the proposal she made during a private visit to the embassy on Monday. Huffington had "touted the productivity benefits of getting more sleep, something we can probably all attest to, and urged the ambassador to follow the Huffington Post's example of installing nap rooms," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

LinkedIn Censored Tiananmen Content

Users in Hong Kong couldn’t share stories about the 1989 massacre but the social network is only supposed to censor stories in mainland China.

Norwegian rocker denies posting racist blogs in France

A Norwegian heavy metal musician accused of inciting racial hatred denied posting racist blogs as he went on trial Tuesday in France, claiming they were penned by someone posing to be him. Kristian Vikernes, 41, was arrested in July last year in France's central Correze region on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks but was released after 48 hours due to lack of evidence. The rocker, who adopted the name of Varg ("wolf" in Norwegian), first made front-page news in August 1993 when he killed a fellow musician in Norway.

Cameroon students caught in Boko Haram crossfire

Fotokol (Cameroon) (AFP) - Stray bullets regularly whizz through the courtyard of the Fotokol highschool in northern Cameroon, a terrifying reminder of the Boko Haram gunmen carrying out deadly raids just across the border with Nigeria. "We are always on the alert," school headmaster Jean Felix Nyioto told AFP, seated behind his desk in a cramped office. "At any moment gunfire crackles on the other side, but also from time to time here" in Fotokol. The other side refers to Gamboru, a Nigerian village descended upon by swarms of Boko Haram fighters in May. The extremists opened fire on residents in an attack which local sources say left at least 300 people dead.

Editor's removal sparks Hungary press freedom protest

The sudden termination of a Hungarian editor's contract sparked protests in Budapest Tuesday after allegations he was fired for publishing a story which embarrassed Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government. -- a subsidiary of German firm Deutsche Telekom AG -- said that the site's editor Gergo Saling was stepping down "by mutual consent", but were forced Tuesday to deny allegations Saling had been booted out for political reasons. An Origo journalist told AFP anonymously however that Saling was "forced out" for political reasons after the site published a story about an extravagant expenses claim made by Janos Lazar, Orban's chief-of-staff.

Revolutionary spirit gone as Syria's Homs votes

Homs (Syria) (AFP) - It was in Baba Amr, in Syria's Homs, that the armed uprising against Bashar al-Assad erupted, but with people turning out to vote Tuesday as the president sought re-election, the spirit of revolution seemed to have vanished. A loudspeaker outside the Hassan al-Sabet school, the district's sole polling station, blared out the words of a patriotic song: "We salute this land of Syria, its heroes and its army." "Homs may have once been the 'capital of the revolution,' but today it is clearly the city of the election," she added. At the beginning of the uprising three years ago, Homs got its nickname because of the massive anti-Assad demonstrations that were brutally crushed by the regime.

New governor starts at scandal-hit Nigerian central bank

Nigeria's new central bank governor began work on Tuesday, starting a fresh chapter in Africa's biggest economy after his predecessor's tenure ended in scandal and claims of political connivance. Godwin Emefiele took over from Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was removed in February, four months from the end of his term of office, on government charges of financial recklessness and impropriety. The nomination of former Zenith Bank chief Emefiele's came as a surprise to many market watchers and his first day at the helm was low key, although he is expected to speak later this week. From the outset, he is seen as likely to build on Sanusi's policies, which are credited with bringing relative stability to the banking industry and putting it on a sound footing.

Israel decries US 'knife in back' over Palestinian govt

Washington's support for a new Palestinian government backed by Israel's Islamist foe Hamas, has left the Jewish state feeling betrayed, triggering a new crisis with its closest ally. Several Israeli ministers expressed public anger on Tuesday after the US State Department said it was willing to work with the new Palestinian unity government put together by the West Bank leadership and Gaza's Hamas rulers. Technocratic in nature, the new government was sworn in on Monday in front of president Mahmud Abbas, with Washington offering its backing several hours later. Israel admitted it was "deeply disappointed."

NATO agrees to 'readiness action plan' to counter Russia

NATO defence ministers agreed Tuesday series of steps to bolster protection in eastern Europe after the Ukraine crisis, but insisted they were acting within the limits of a key post-Cold War treaty with Moscow. NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said ministers had agreed to develop a "readiness action plan... to respond to the changed security environment" created by the escalating conflict in Ukraine. This will include measures such as pre-positioning supplies and equipment in member states and stepping up work to improve military capabilities to help NATO speed up its reaction time to any threat. The plan will go to NATO leaders at their September summit in Britain for approval.

Crimean Tatar receives Poland's first Solidarity Prize

The leader of Crimea's pro-Kiev Tatar community on Tuesday received a Polish prize for championing democracy and human rights, before an audience of dignitaries in Warsaw. Mustafa Dzhemilev, 70, picked up the inaugural Solidarity Prize at a ceremony notably attended by Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Russia wants quick successor on Syria peace push

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - Russia said Tuesday it would not shirk efforts to find a political solution in Syria during its month-long presidency of the UN Security Council, calling for a new mediator to be appointed without delay. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, under fire from Western colleagues for blocking attempts to enforce humanitarian corridors in the war-torn country, said Moscow wanted a political solution. He told a news conference it would be "fundamentally flawed" to ignore the need for a quick successor to mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who stepped down Saturday, given the latest collapse in peace talks. Moscow has four times vetoed Western resolutions on Syria, protecting close ally Damascus and paralyzing Security Council efforts to end a war that has killed more than 160,000 people.

Spain gets 10 million euros from EU to fight illegal immigration

Spain will receive 10 million euros ($13.6 million) from the European Union to fight illegal immigration in its two north African territories of Ceuta and Melilla, the government said Tuesday. Madrid has for months appealed for more EU aid to help it contain a surge in the arrival of sub-Saharan African migrants at the two cities, which are both on Morocco's Mediterranean coastline and have Europe's only two land borders with Africa. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the bloc would "immediately" provide Madrid with 10 million euros during talks in Madrid with Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Ukraine monitors alive, talks ongoing, says OSCE chief

Two OSCE monitoring teams taken prisoner by separatist gunmen in eastern Ukraine are alive, the head of the European security body said Monday. They are alive and well," said Lamberto Zannier, secretary general of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Zannier told reporters that the OSCE was working around the clock to win the captives' freedom, but declined to elaborate, citing the confidential nature of the talks. "My priority is to win their immediate freedom, without conditions," he said, after briefing diplomats at Swiss think-tank the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

Prisoner swap brings Obama closer to closing Gitmo

Barack Obama's decision to release five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay has been attacked by some as illegal or reckless, but could bring him closer to his goal of closing the prison camp. Supporters of the president's efforts to close Guantanamo said the move showed that he is closing in on his goal. Obama has defended the decision to release the detainees, Taliban leaders caught early in the conflict and accused of some of the worst excesses of Afghanistan's pre-2001 regime.

How the Mississippi primary became a playground for big-money GOP consultants

Neither Chris McDaniel, the conservative firebrand vying for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate nomination today, nor the six-term establishment Republican incumbent he is challenging, Thad Cochran, is likely to be the future of the GOP. They’re not even great campaigners. Why, then, are so many Washington, D.C.-based Republican aides and operatives fixated on this race, a bitter fight between two gaffe-prone men with on-the-ground operations so strained they can barely keep up with a deluge of national requests pouring in their way?