Political News from Yahoo

Hillary Rodham Clinton defends prisoner swap

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a measured defense Monday of the Obama administration's controversial decision to swap five Guantanamo Bay detainees for a U.S. soldier held hostage in Afghanistan, noting that many of America's allies make similar deals.


Exclusive: U.S. lawmakers probe Treasury unit's hiring, will object to Obama nominee

By Emily Flitter and Brett Wolf WASHINGTON/ST LOUIS (Reuters) - Two powerful congressmen have opened separate inquiries into whether a Department of the Treasury bureau charged with policing money laundering may have flouted federal hiring rules, including regulations that require military veterans be given preference for government jobs. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who chairs the House oversight panel, expressed concern about possible improper hiring practices at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In a letter to FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Issa said his committee had also learned that senior Treasury officials may have known about the practice.     Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is separately looking into the matter. He said he intends to object to the nomination of Nani Coloretti, a senior Treasury official, to be the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, until his questions have been satisfactorily answered.     Coloretti, who is currently Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Management, was nominated by the Obama administration for the HUD job in April but has not yet been confirmed by Congress.

Cameroon sends troops north to take on Boko Haram

Dabanga (Cameroon) (AFP) - "Everyone out! Hold onto your belongings, we're going to conduct a search," yells a Cameroonian soldier as he inspects bus passengers already wearied by dusty hours on a bumpy northern road. "We're everywhere in the area," said the soldier in Dabanga, in Cameroon's far north, the border region where a French family was kidnapped last year by Islamic extremists of the deadly Boko Haram movement. The incursion of Boko Haram fighters into Cameroon, from their stronghold over the border in Nigeria, has led to regular vehicle searches and identity checks by the army. Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", has killed thousands of people since 2009 in its fight to establish an Islamic state in the north of Nigeria.


Emirates chief asks why no fighter jet tracked MH370

Emirates chief Tim Clark has reportedly questioned why fighter jets did not intercept Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 when it veered widely off course, but said he believed the missing plane will be found. The Emirates boss told The Australian Financial Review at an annual airlines conference in Doha that the plane would have been intercepted by military aircraft if it had flown off course over other countries. "Even if you did that over Australia and the US, there would be something up. His comments came as the International Air Transport Association conference looked at ways of improving the tracking of aircraft through flight data transmissions or technologies to monitor their movements.


New India minister killed in car accident

A new Indian minister was killed Tuesday in a car accident in the capital just days after being sworn into government, officials said. Gopinath Munde, rural development and water and sanitation minister, died in hospital after his car was involved in an accident en route to New Delhi's airport early Tuesday. "His car was hit by another car which gave him a shock and Munde himself asked his driver to rush him to the hospital," fellow minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters outside the AIIMS hospital. A veteran politician and a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Munde hailed from western Maharashtra where he was a former deputy chief minister of the state between 1995 and 1999.


Ex-Brooklyn district attorney may have misused public funds -report

An investigation into former six-term Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes found his office spent more than $200,000 in seized criminal funds on consultant services for his failed reelection campaign last year, a report said on Monday. It also found that 95 percent of the more than 6,000 emails sent and received by Hynes' official district attorney email account in the 18 months leading up to the November 2013 election were related to his campaign, potentially violating the New York City Charter and ethics code. The report also implicates Judge Barry Kamins, a veteran of the bench who last year was appointed as the Chief of Policy and Planning for New York State's court system and oversaw the New York City criminal courts. "Charles Hynes and Barry have been good friends for 40 years and have discussed politics for much of that period.


Bring Back Our Girls protests banned in Nigeria's capital

Nigerian police have banned protests in the capital Abuja by supporters of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants as the activists vowed to challenge the "illegal" move. Noisy street demonstrations in Abuja have become a regular feature of the campaign to put pressure on the government and keep the issue in the public eye seven weeks after the girls were abducted from a school in northern Nigeria on April 14. Federal Capital Territory (FCT) police spokeswoman Altine Daniel confirmed the ban in a text message to AFP, saying the decision was taken "because of security reasons". Protest organisers questioned the legitimacy of the move and eyed a possible political motive, but police chief Joseph Mbu said the ban was imposed because of the threat of infiltration from "dangerous elements".


UN labour body denounces global austerity measures

The United Nation's labour agency on Tuesday denounced "premature" austerity measures brought in by governments around the world during the financial crisis, saying they have hurt the world's most vulnerable people. Isabel Ortiz, director of social welfare of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), said that in 2014 alone at least 122 governments have cut public spending, including in 82 developing countries. In the European Union, where many states brought in swingeing budget cuts in response to the debt crisis, she estimated that as many as 123 million people -- or a quarter of the bloc's population -- were now classified as poor because of cuts in social protection.


White House Changes Tune on Bergdahl

For years, the Obama administration avoided calling Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a ‘prisoner of war.’ But now that he’s free, it has reversed course—potentially triggering Taliban demands.


Republicans demand hearings in Congress over soldier's release

By Patricia Zengerle and David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama set a dangerous precedent by swapping five Taliban prisoners for a captured U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and may have broken the law, members of Congress said on Monday as they pressed for public hearings on the issue. Fueling criticism of the decision to swap Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba were accusations by some soldiers that the Idaho native was a deserter who cost the lives of several comrades. The State Department said it considered Bergdahl "a member of the military who was detained while in combat." The Pentagon said it was unable to confirm media reports that troops had been killed in operations trying to locate Bergdahl following his June 2009 disappearance.


How Obama Got Spies Behind Taliban Deal

The Pentagon and the nation’s top intelligence official opposed releasing the Gitmo Five in 2012. This time around the White House got what it wanted when the Taliban was ready to deal.


Obama departs US for visit highlighting East Europe ties

President Barack Obama departed Washington Monday en route to Poland, the first stop of a trip designed to reassure America's allies in Eastern Europe. Obama was accompanied on his presidential plane Air Force One by his national security adviser Susan Rice, spokesman Dan Pfeiffer, and other senior aides. During the Poland leg of his four-day trip, Obama was to meet with Ukraine's president elect Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday. He later attends the Group of Seven summit in Brussels, where the agenda was to be dominated by Washington's push -- and Europe's reluctance -- to keep the economic screws tightened on Russia because of its seizure of Crimea.


Questions loom over Bergdahl-Taliban swap

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon concluded in 2010 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and after an initial flurry of searching the military curbed any high-risk rescue plans. But the U.S. kept pursuing avenues to negotiate his release, recently seeking to fracture the Taliban network by making its leaders fear a faster deal with underlings could prevent the freedom they sought for five of their top officials, American officials told The Associated Press.


Seattle council passes $15 minimum wage

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15, which would make it the highest in the nation.


US to aid unaccompanied children arriving from Mexico: Obama

President Barack Obama on Monday said his administration would provide special assistance to children arriving to the US alone after making the treacherous overland journey from Mexico. In response to what he called an "urgent humanitarian situation," Obama ordered federal departments to coordinate relief for the unaccompanied children, including medical care, housing and efforts to reunite them with their parents. Cecilia Munoz, the top White House domestic policy advisers, said that the number of children apprehended along the border had "increased substantially" over the past month, particularly in Texas. "These are children from Central American countries, and they are crossing the border alone," she said.


Palestinian killed by Israeli security forces in West Bank

Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian after he shot and wounded a border guard in the northern West Bank late Monday, the army said. "An armed Palestinian opened fire at the Tapuach junction and wounded an Israeli border guard," said an army spokeswoman.


Spain's king befriended New World despite Chavez spat

King Juan Carlos championed strong ties between Spain and its former empire in Latin America, except for the time the departing monarch told Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez to "shut up." The famous clash took place during an Ibero-American summit in Chile in 2007, when Chavez angered Juan Carlos by calling Spanish conservative ex-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar a fascist. Chavez was having a tense exchange with then prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero when the king chimed in, waving his left hand toward the socialist Venezuelan leader and saying "why don't you just shut up" in front of other regional leaders. The incident caused a diplomat spat between Venezuela and Spain, with Chavez demanding an apology from the monarch and ordering a review of bilateral relations.


West criticizes Russian draft resolution on Ukraine

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - A Russian draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and a humanitarian corridor met with criticism from the West and cool response at the Security Council Monday. Moscow drafted the resolution at the start of its month-long presidency of the Council as Western powers want to enforce humanitarian corridors in Syria -- a prospect blocked by Russia. Moscow said it wanted to stop the violence in Ukraine, which has escalated between pro-Russian separatists and government forces, but its resolution met with strong rebuke from Washington.


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