Political News from Yahoo

Atlantic trade talks: US, EU seek to calm food worries

US and EU officials tried Friday to calm fears that an ambitious transatlantic free trade pact would not erode food safety rules. Closing out five days of talks to advance the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), negotiators stressed that any deal would not force Europeans to accept US foods already ruled unsafe in the European Union. "We cannot envisage... changing our food safety law as a result of the trade negotiations," EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero said at a press conference in Washington. "There's no intention of forcing the Europeans to eat anything that Europeans don't want to eat -- that's not what this agreement is about," said his US counterpart, Dan Mullaney.

US suspends $.3.5M in military aid to Thailand

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is suspending $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand, its first punitive step against the Asian country following a military coup, the State Department announced Friday.

Flogged for a Kiss on the Cheek

Leila Hatami pecked the director of the Cannes Film Festival and was quickly denounced as a sinner by hardliners at home. No matter how far or high she goes, Hatami can’t escape Islamic fundamentalism.

US suspends $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand

The United States said Friday it has suspended $3.5 million in military assistance for Thailand, about one-third of its aid to the ally, after the army seized power. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that the United States was also reviewing the rest of US aid to Thailand -- which totaled some $10.5 million in 2013 -- to look for further cuts. Harf said that the United States was looking through its allocated funding for international bodies including the 10-nation ASEAN bloc to identify money directed to Thailand. The United States has contacted junta leaders to deliver the message, Harf said.

Absent execution drugs, US state turns to electric chair

The governor of Tennessee has authorized use of the electric chair to execute death row inmates in the event drugs for lethal injections are unavailable. The measure makes Tennessee the first US state that would mandate the electric chair, although the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) says six other states that allow inmates to choose their method of execution allow such electrocution. In late April, the prolonged and agonizing death of an Oklahoma inmate who had been administered execution drugs highlighted the debate over the injections. President Barack Obama called the incident "deeply troubling."

RNC files lawsuit to raise unlimited cash

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican National Committee on Friday sued the Federal Election Commission in an effort to raise unlimited cash like super PACs do.

Hundreds rally for detained Sudan ex-PM

Hundreds of supporters of detained former Sudanese prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi rallied on Friday despite a show of force by police and security agents. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested Mahdi, chief of the opposition Umma Party, on May 17 after he reportedly accused a counter-insurgency unit of abuses against civilians. Mahdi, a descendant of Sudan's legendary Islamic reformer known as the "Mahdi", is also a religious leader revered by followers in his Ansar al-Islam movement. Dozens of vehicles from the riot police, NISS and police special forces were on standby in the area.

Northern Mali rebels agree to ceasefire: diplomat

Bamako (AFP) - Armed rebels who humiliated Mali's army in a deadly offensive across the northern desert agreed to a ceasefire on Friday after talks with African Union chairman Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, a diplomatic source said.

House ethics panel defers probe of NY lawmaker

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Ethics Committee has put its investigation of indicted Rep. Michael Grimm on hold so the Justice Department can proceed with its own probe of the lawmaker, the committee said Friday.

Kidnapped Woman Feared Deportation

How could someone live an outwardly normal life—but be held against her will? California police say the threat of being deported kept undocumented immigrant silent for a decade.

Jealous man castrates and kills French mayor

A jealous man castrated and murdered the mayor of a hamlet in northern France whom he suspected of having an affair with his girlfriend, officials said Friday. Mayor Dominique Leboucher, 55, was brutally stabbed in the neck by a 39-year-old electrician, the prosecutor of the northern city of Caen told reporters. The attacker had no previous police record and was "clearly very much in love" with his girlfriend, Catherine Denis said.

Kerry: I’ll testify on Benghazi, but only to one House committee

Secretary of State John Kerry offered Friday to testify on Benghazi before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – but cautioned that doing so would “remove any need” to appear before the new House Select Committee formed to investigate the tragedy.

Kerry agrees to testify to U.S. House committee on Benghazi: letter

Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee on its investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to a State Department letter obtained by Reuters. Kerry was subpoenaed to testify on May 29, but the letter said prior commitments would prevent his appearance. If Kerry testifies before the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, the letter said, it should remove any need for the secretary to appear before a House Select Committee that was formed recently to look into the Benghazi incident. House Republicans have launched multiple investigations into the Obama administration's handling of embassy security in the run-up to the attack and the steps it took in the aftermath.

Former US defense chief Gates to head up Boy Scouts

Former US Defense Secretary and CIA chief Robert Gates, who is also a former Boy Scout, has been tapped to lead the iconic youth organization known for its "be prepared" ethos. Gates was elected Thursday to head the Boy Scouts of America, which had made news in recent years over its long-standing refusal, finally reversed last year, to accept gay youths as scouts. Gates, 70, was Defense Secretary under both presidents George W. Bush as well as under Barack Obama. The Boy Scouts of America, a group founded in 1910, counts 2.5 million young boys as scouts, led by a million volunteer leaders of about 110,000 troops.

Scandinavian anti-immigrant parties face mixed fortunes

Denmark's anti-immigrant party is expected to become the country's largest in Sunday's EU election while their Swedish peers lag behind, highlighting different political and economic landscapes in the two countries. Opinion polls show the Danish People's Party (DPP) is backed by one in four voters in the European Parliament vote, putting them ahead of the ruling Social Democrats. The populist party has also benefitted from a heated debate on whether eastern European guest workers should be eligible for Denmark's generous child and unemployment benefits, even if they have only worked briefly in the country. As he canvassed votes outside Copenhagen's main train station on Wednesday morning, Denmark's top Social Democratic MEP Jeppe Kofod was met by a somewhat underwhelming response.

Chief judge on U.S. patent court steps down from lead role

By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. patent court's chief judge stepped down from his leadership role on Friday after a newspaper report said he had to recuse himself from two cases because of an email he sent praising a lawyer who appears before the court. Judge Randall Rader will remain on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but he will be replaced as chief judge by Judge Sharon Prost at the end of May, the court said on its website. The court did not explain why Rader resigned before his seven-year term as chief judge, which is a mainly administrative role, was due to end in 2017. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Rader had recused himself from two patent cases because of concerns about impartiality.

Iran addresses nuclear bomb allegations for first time: IAEA

Iran has for the first time in six years addressed concerns about the so-called "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear programme, a new IAEA report showed Friday. Tehran has handed over information related to detonators that can be used for a nuclear weapon under a key November interim nuclear deal, the quarterly report, seen by AFP, showed. In technical meetings in late April and earlier this week in Iran, Tehran provided the UN atomic watchdog with "information and explanations, including showing documents, to substantiate its stated need and application of EBW (Explosive Bridge Wire detonators)," the report by IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano for member states, said. "Iran showed information to the agency that simultaneous firing of EBW was tested for a civilian application," it went on.

Nigeria cannot beat Boko Haram without foreign help: security

Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) - A senior Nigerian security source told AFP on Friday that the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram has exposed the country's incapacity to deal with the Islamist uprising. "We have been playing the ostrich all this while, pretending we are on top of the situation," said the source based in Maiduguri, who agreed to an interview provided his name and title be withheld. Gunmen seized 276 girls on April 14 from their school in Chibok in northeastern Borno state, of which Maiduguri is the capital. The source said Nigeria needed outside help beyond the Chibok mission as the security forces in Africa's most populous country and biggest economy were incapable of defeating Boko Haram.