American companies can expect progress on some critical U.S. trade initiatives if the Republican Party takes control of both houses of the U.S. Congress this November. A Republican victory in the Senate may prevent the chamber's Democrats, backed by labor unions concerned about the impact of free trade on American jobs, from blocking trade legislation favored by both President Barack Obama and Republican leaders. Pollsters currently see the Republicans with a reasonable chance of winning just enough seats to gain control of the Senate in mid-term elections, which would give them their first majority in both chambers since 2006. One area that might take a hit is future funding of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the nation's export credit agency, as some conservatives see it providing “corporate welfare” through loans to foreign buyers of goods made by major U.S. companies.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Hollywood loves stars and loves an underdog, and Democrat Wendy Davis is both. At a recent rooftop fundraiser hosted by Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg at the Bad Robot film studios near Los Angeles, she socked away more money for what could be a financially record-shattering race for Texas governor.
By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Louisiana conservative seeking to be the No.3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives has the potential to be a bridge between the party's leadership and Tea Party rebels. Representative Steve Scalise is a staunch conservative who, in assessing President Obama's first 100 days in office in 2009, gave him a grade he considers far worse than an "F" for failure - an "L" for Liberal. The current whip, Kevin McCarthy, is a strong favorite to win the No.2 House leadership position in June 19 elections to replace Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Cantor is stepping down after a stunning loss last Tuesday to a Tea Party upstart in Virginia in a primary election ahead of the November midterm elections.
Three people were sentenced to death Monday over a deadly suicide car crash in Beijing's symbolic heart Tiananmen Square, state-run media said, in China's latest move against militants from restive, mainly-Muslim Xinjiang. One other person was given life in prison for the "violent terrorist attack" that killed two tourists last October, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said, citing the Intermediate People's Court in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi.
By Edward McAllister NEW YORK (Reuters) - As politicians debate the dangers of a massive increase in oil carried by rail in North America, railroads and energy producers are considering the same for natural gas. Buoyed by the unexpected success of crude by rail, companies are beginning to consider transporting natural gas as remote drilling frontiers emerge beyond the reach of pipelines, executives said. Natural gas by rail is years away and likely to face strong public resistance after a series of explosive crude-by-rail accidents. But the potentially multibillion-dollar development could connect gas-rich regions like North Dakota with urban centers, presenting an opportunity for railroads, drillers and tank car makers already cashing in from hauling oil on trains.
Mombasa (Kenya) (AFP) - At least 26 people were killed when some 50 insurgents flying black Islamist flags swept into a Kenyan coastal town firing guns in an unprecedented attack, a local government official said on Monday. "So far we have collected over 26 bodies and taken them to the mortuary, but we are still looking for more," Benson Maisori, deputy commissioner for the district, told AFP. The insurgents were reported to have been from Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab. "They were shouting in Somali and shouting 'Allahu Akbar'", he added, meaning "God is great", in Arabic.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who was re-elected Sunday, is seen as his country's best hope for a potential peace deal with Marxist rebels. With nearly all votes tallied, the center-right Santos registered 50.90 percent of the vote, compared with 45.04 percent for the more conservative Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. Santos, who governs in a coalition with some leftist parties, has led efforts to reach a peace deal the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The president served as defense minister under hawkish president Alvaro Uribe, overseeing a no-holds-barred military campaign against the FARC, who have fought the longest-running insurgency in Latin America.
Iran and world powers' high-stakes nuclear talks enter a critical fifth round in Vienna on Monday, with both sides still far apart on crucial issues five weeks before a deadline for a deal. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany want Tehran to scale back its nuclear activities, while Iran wants all UN and Western sanctions to be lifted. This long hoped-for accord would be aimed at once and for all silencing fears that Tehran might develop nuclear weapons, and averting a slide into international conflict. It also remains to be seen whether possible cooperation between Iran and the United States on the Iraq crisis will help the old foes find common ground in Vienna.
Despite one of their own nearly becoming a pro soccer star, few US lawmakers will join the rest of humanity and drop everything to watch the World Cup. "I have to admit I'm way behind on that," Senator Bob Casey told AFP. Senator Dick Durbin will watch, "as long as they don't have those zoyzooellas moaning in the background," he said, garbling the vuvuzela horns that South African supporters blew in 2010. Even Florida's Senator Marco Rubio, unfazed about jeopardizing his standing with soccer-mad Hispanic constituents, said the World Cup was on the back burner for him until the basketball season ends.
Brazilian police used pepper spray to prevent some 200 protestors from getting near Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium Sunday during the Argentina-Bosnia World Cup game. Chanting "Hey FIFA, return to Switzerland," the demonstrators, including members of the radical Black Bloc movement, tried to penetrate a police barricade. Police used pepper spray to keep them back.
The United States condemned Sunday a "horrifying" massacre by militants said to have killed hundreds of Iraqi Shia air force recruits in the northern city of Tikrit, urging the country to unite. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have overrun a succession of major towns and cities in the north of Iraq over the last week and are closing on Baghdad. "The claim by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits in Tikrit is horrifying and a true depiction of the bloodlust that these terrorists represent," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. The latest figure adds to the half a million people the IOM estimates fled Iraq's second city, Mosul, after it was overrun Tuesday.
By Jeff Mason RANCHO MIRAGE Calif. (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will go to Guatemala on Friday to meet Central American leaders about the influx of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States, senior administration officials said on Sunday. Biden is adding the stop to an already scheduled trip to Brazil, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Biden will meet the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador as well as a senior government official from Honduras to follow up on the Obama administration's efforts to discourage parents in those countries from sending their children on dangerous trips to the United States. Between October and May, more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the United States, nearly double the number in the previous 12 months, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a news conference in Washington last week.