By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama mounted a vigorous effort on Thursday to show his signature healthcare law is working and dismissed Republican critics who are using flaws in Obamacare to campaign for ousting Democrats from the U.S. Congress in November. Appearing in the White House briefing room days before leaving the national stage for a week-long trip to Asia, Obama used a news conference to make the case that the Affordable Care Act had mended nicely from its disastrous October rollout. For the healthcare law to succeed, young, healthy people must sign up and pay premiums to offset the healthcare costs for older Americans. Obama's remarks reflected deep concerns at the White House that Republicans may be able to topple Democrats from control of the U.S. Senate in November elections and build on their majority in the House of Representatives.
A group encouraging retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run for president raised $2.4 million in the first three months of this year, more than the group backing Hillary Clinton or those affiliated with Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and other potential candidates, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Carson's spokesman says he is not interested in running for president and he is not affiliated with the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee. The money is a sign that conservative voters are looking beyond the usual political suspects for a presidential candidate, the head of the Ben Carson committee said. "My gut tells me that the American people are looking for a citizen statesman, for a non-politician," said John Philip Sousa IV, a descendant of the "Stars and Stripes Forever" composer who serves as the group's chairman.
US President Barack Obama told fellow Democrats to stop saying sorry for his health care law Thursday, revealing that eight million people had now signed up for insurance. Obama said it was also time for Republicans to accept that the Affordable Care Act -- the cornerstone of his domestic legacy, which was plagued by a botched rollout and fierce political controversy -- works and is here to stay. "I think that Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud" of helping millions of people, Obama said at a press conference. Republicans have made opposition to Obama's law a centerpiece of their campaign ahead of mid-term elections in November.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges and the proportion of younger applicants has increased, President Barack Obama said Thursday. The enrollments exceeded expectations and offered new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of the midterm elections.
US President Barack Obama said a deal Thursday to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine was a "glimmer of hope" but cautioned he could not be sure if Russia would live up to it. I think there is the possibility, the prospect, that the diplomacy may de-escalate the situation," Obama told reporters after four-way crisis talks in Switzerland between the US, Russia, Ukraine and the EU. He called for an end to what he said was interference by Russia in eastern and southern Ukraine, where Washington has accused the Kremlin of backing pro-Moscow separatists who seized government buildings.
President Barack Obama on Thursday called on the Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which he said was being held back by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives. "There is bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform," Obama said at a news conference. The Congress should act. "Right now what's holding us back is House Republican leadership not willing to go ahead and let the process move forward." Obama said there were Republicans in both the House and Senate who know immigration reform "is the right thing to do." "I also know it's hard politics for Republicans because there are some in their base that are very opposed to this," he said.
Fort Meade (United States) (AFP) - A military judge at Guantanamo Bay has ordered the US government to turn over information on secret CIA interrogation centers connected to the trial of the alleged mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Judge James Pohl instructed the government to reveal names, dates and locations of "black sites" where Saudi suspect Abd Rahim al-Nashiri was held between his arrest in 2002 and his transfer to the notorious Guantanamo detention center in 2006. Nashiri's lawyer Rick Kammen told AFP in an email that the order "directs the government to provide a huge amount of material pertaining to the RDI (Rendition, Detention, Interrogation) program." Speaking about the matter at a press conference related to preliminary hearings of alleged September 11, 2001 plotters, prosecutor Mark Martins said: "The ruling came out on Monday.
Fort Meade (United States) (AFP) - A US military judge at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday that federal investigators had carried out checks on the legal teams of at least two accused September 11 plotters, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Judge James Pohl halted this week's preliminary hearings at Guantanamo after lawyers for the alleged terror plotters told the court that a member of the defense team had been visited and questioned by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. David Nevin, representing the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, said the FBI probe had had a "chilling effect" on the defense team. After suspending proceedings in order to assess the extent of the claims, Pohl said Thursday it had been established that there had been "some type investigation by the FBI into Mr Mohammed's team."