Political News from Yahoo

Palermo Has an Underground Mummy City

Beneath the Sicilian streets are rooms filled with monks, lawyers, babies, and virgins. Enter if you dare: Palermo’s catacombs are teeming with centuries of the city’s dead.

Assad’s Secret WMD

Syria’s ‘declared’ arsenal of chemical weapons is almost gone—but what was left undeclared? And what about his biological weapons? Those have not been acknowledged or inspected at all.

The Japanese Go All ‘Footloose’

Police enforcing an archaic law have decimated the country’s nightclubs—and unhappy clubbers have responded with dance protests. But a court verdict might end the crackdown.

May Primaries Will Decide Election 2014

Could Mitch McConnell be thrown off the ballot? That’s one of the huge political questions that will be settled in the next four weeks.

APNewsBreak: Military sex assault claims up 50 pct

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reports of sexual assaults by members of the military rose 50 percent after the Pentagon began a vigorous campaign to get more victims to come forward, prompting defense officials to order a greater focus on prevention programs, including plans to review alcohol sales and policies.

Scalia gets his facts wrong in EPA dissent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court opinions are rarely susceptible to the kind of fact-checking that reporters usually employ on politics. But Justice Antonin Scalia's hearty dissent in an environmental case this week contained such a glaring error of fact — misreporting an earlier case in which Scalia himself wrote the majority opinion — that the justice changed the opinion. The court quietly posted the corrected version on its website without notice.

Senate Republicans block Obama bid to hike minimum wage

By Thomas Ferraro WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama blasted Senate Republicans on Wednesday just hours after they blocked one of his top legislative priorities, a bid to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009. "They (Republicans) prevented a raise for 28 million hard-working Americans. They said no to helping millions work their way out of poverty," Obama said at the White House, backed up by low-wage workers. On a nearly party-line vote of 54-42, Obama's Democrats fell short of the needed 60 Senate votes to end a procedural roadblock against a White House-backed bill.

Republicans to push anti-Obamacare message in U.S. Senate hearings

By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans are relishing the chance to use confirmation hearings for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Barack Obama's nominee as U.S. health secretary, to re-energize their election-year attacks on his signature healthcare initiative. Republicans, who are seeking to take control of the Senate in the November 4 congressional elections, view a pair of Senate hearings for Burwell as their best chance to put a spotlight on Obamacare since the program's botched rollout in October. Burwell's first hearing is scheduled for May 8 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

White House denies memo was about Benghazi attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Wednesday denied that a staff member's email three days after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission at Benghazi, Libya, was actually about the attack. Critics have branded the electronic missive as evidence that the Obama administration sought to deceive the public about the true circumstances surrounding the deaths of four Americans during the final months of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Colorado eyes edibles rules as more people eat pot

DENVER (AP) — Colorado's marijuana experiment is threatened by the popularity of eating it instead of smoking it, leading the pot industry to join health officials and state regulators to try to curb the problem of consumers ingesting too much weed.

Money wielded to help Ukraine and threaten Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — The international community gave a financial boost to a feeble Ukraine on Wednesday as Republican lawmakers in the U.S. sought to increase the economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to deflate Moscow's designs on its neighbor.

House tries to get appropriations bills on track

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Wednesday took the first step in a bipartisan drive to fix its broken process for handling the $1 trillion provided to federal agencies each year for their day-to-day operations.

Ryan holds meeting with black members of Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Paul Ryan said Wednesday he had a productive meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a gathering that came weeks after comments the Wisconsin Republican made about poverty and inner cities stirred allegations of racism from some members of the caucus.

Top 2 Pentagon intelligence officials quitting

WASHINGTON (AP) — The three-star Army general who has headed the Defense Intelligence Agency for less than two years is being nudged aside amid conflict within the agency and between the general and leaders elsewhere in the intelligence community, a senior defense official said Wednesday.

Obama, Republicans, trade fire over minimum wage, Benghazi

By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and his Republican opponents traded accusations over the minimum wage and a deadly attack at a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday in their drive to get voters focused on the November congressional elections. With five months before voters go to the polls, little actual governing is getting done and much of Washington is all about political posturing ahead of elections that may well determine Obama's ability to govern in his last two years in office. Obama, whose tepid public approval rating threatens to sag Democratic attempts to maintain control of the Senate in November, appeared with low-wage workers in the White House East Room to press his case for reducing income inequality. He zeroed in on what Democrats consider a major issue for them heading into the campaign season - raising the minimum wage paid to millions of Americans.

US military intelligence chief stepping down

The head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency and his deputy will step down later this year, officials said Wednesday, but denied reports they were being forced out. Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who had served as director of the DIA since July 2012, and deputy David Shedd, said in a joint memo to employees that "they will depart the agency and retire by early Fall 2014," according to an agency statement. Their "retirements have been planned for some time," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby in an email. Flynn played a key role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving under General Stanley McChrystal as part of US efforts to dismantle insurgent networks through raids by special operations forces.

Obamacare puts a floor under U.S. economy in first quarter

Healthcare spending increased at its fastest pace in more than three decades. That surge is attributed to the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. "GDP growth would have ... been negative were it not for healthcare spending," said Harm Bandholz, chief economist at UniCredit Research in New York. Healthcare spending increased at a 9.9 percent annual rate, the quickest since the third quarter of 1980, and it contributed 1.1 percentage points to GDP growth.

US fears for Bangladesh stability

The United States on Wednesday renewed calls for Bangladesh's leaders to work through their bitter divisions, warning that prolonged instability would take a dangerous toll on the impoverished country. Nisha Biswal, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, said that the United States would keep pressing Bangladesh to resolve intense feuding but acknowledged that "we haven't seen a tremendous amount of movement." "We believe that all of the gains that Bangladesh has made in its economy, in its development trajectory, that all of those gains are fragile and unsustainable in the long term if it does not have political stability," she told a congressional subcommittee. "And political stability is not possible without some greater degree of political inclusion."

Republican strategy memo focuses on Obamacare, not immigration

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A memo outlining the legislative agenda for Republicans in the House of Representatives lists replacement of President Barack Obama's healthcare law as a priority for the coming weeks but does not mention plans to tackle immigration reform. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent the memo to fellow Republicans as they returned from a two-week recess, employing a regular tool to help keep the party unified on its political message in the run-up to congressional elections in November. Republicans have put criticisms of Obama's healthcare reform law at the center of their efforts to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats and to boost their majority in the House. Cantor said House Republicans would work to "reform our healthcare system by replacing Obamacare with policies that improve patient choice, access to doctors and hospitals and lower costs." The memo also said the Republican-controlled House would pass permanent extensions of six temporary business tax breaks, including a credit for research and development activities.

5 Reasons Why Raising The Minimum Wage Is Going Nowhere For Now

The latest blow to President Obama’s domestic agenda came this afternoon when the Senate failed to advance a measure that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $10.10. With a vote of 54-42, Senate Republicans shelved one of the key initiatives the president urged...