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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...

Harry Reid Slams Redskins Owner, NFL Over Team's Name

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted the NFL and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for not changing the name of  football team, saying the league should follow the example set by the NBA in its handling of LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments. “Commissioner...

April’s Best Viral Videos

From the Lion King cast performing impromptu on a plane to an epic April Fool’s Day prank,’ here’s our countdown of this month’s buzziest videos.

US military reviews hairstyle rules after outcry

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel is ordering a review of rules on hairstyles for female troops after a wave of complaints charged the US military's policies discriminated against black women. In a letter obtained by AFP Wednesday, Hagel wrote to lawmakers promising that each of the armed services would look at hairstyle regulations that apply to African-American women "to ensure standards are fair and respectful of our diverse force." Sixteen female lawmakers from the Congressional Black Caucus had raised objections over hairstyle regulations saying the rules unfairly singled out black women in uniform. And a former member of the Georgia National Guard, Jasmine Jacobs, launched a White House petition against the rules that attracted more than 17,500 signatures along with a huge volume of online comments.

US warns of new generation of global terrorists

The worldwide terror threat is evolving as Al-Qaeda linked groups and other militants become increasingly violent and Syria spawns a new generation of global terrorists, the US warned Wednesday. The State Department's 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism showed the number of attacks around the world rose last year to more than 9,700 -- up some 43 percent from 6,700 in 2012. US counter-terrorism efforts to combat Al-Qaeda have "degraded" the core leadership, but "subsequently 2013 saw the rise of increasingly aggressive and autonomous AQ affiliates and like-minded groups in the Middle East and Africa," the report said. Al-Qaeda's leadership was also struggling "to maintain discipline within the AQ network and communicate guidance to its affiliated groups," said Counter-terrorism coordinator Tina Kaidanow.

Senate to consider transportation funding at hearing

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on May 7 to discuss funding of the country's surface transportation systems, including a $302 billion, four-year bill proposed by the Obama administration, the committee's chairman said on Wednesday. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is the sole witness listed so far. "The hearing will highlight the need to allocate more resources to underfunded areas of the nation's transportation system, including to programs that move freight, focus on safety, and concentrate on growing rail service," said Senator John Rockefeller, a Democrat of West Virginia.

Is Columbia Mishandling LGBT Rape Cases?

One queer trans student, part of a group of 23 undergrads who filed complaints against the university with the Department of Education last week, says the school has acted dismissively when dealing with reports of LGBT rape.

US gives embattled Ukraine a break over IP cheating

The United States said Wednesday that Ukraine's political crisis will shield it for the moment from any penalty or retaliation over its extensive violations of intellectual property rights. In its annual report on violations of US IP rights, the US Trade Representative gave major violator Ukraine relief from punishment threatened last year, pointing to the struggles facing the interim government in Kiev in the wake of the overthrow of the corrupt pro-Moscow regime on February 22. In May 2013 the USTR declared Ukraine one of the worst violators of US IP rights due to rampant software and Internet-based piracy, as well as fraudulent collection and payment of copyright fees owed foreign artists. The USTR also labeled Ukraine a safe haven for online piracy, allowing the operations of numerous entertainment and software pirates like ExtraTorrent.com.

US: China's theft of trade secrets a major concern

Washington said Wednesday that China's efforts to steal US trade secrets are of "significant concern" as it again listed the country as a major violator of intellectual property rights. In its annual "Special 301" report on IP rights violators, China led 10 countries on the US Trade Representative's "priority watch list", marking its 25th year on the list. Despite some improvement in cooperation over combating counterfeit products and software and entertainment piracy, the USTR said, China is still the center of huge losses for US rights holders. IP rights holders still face "serious obstacles" to enforcing their rights in all forms inside China, the report said.

Obama says NBA 'right' to ban Clippers owner: spokesman

Washington (AFP) - US President Barack Obama has voiced his support for the NBA's decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for making racist remarks, the White House spokesman said Wednesday.

Corruption is Afghans' 'existential threat': US ex-general

Corruption, not the Taliban, is the existential threat to Afghanistan which the next president must tackle with urgency, the former commander of NATO troops in the country said Wednesday. John Allen, who led the war effort for a year and half until stepping down in 2013, said Afghanistan's economic prospects will be bleak unless the next leader can root out corruption, including ending the influence of drug lords over government functions. "The great challenge to Afghanistan's future isn't the Taliban or the Pakistani safe havens (for militants) or even an incipiently hostile Pakistan," the retired four-star general told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

White House: Oklahoma execution not done humanely

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The execution of an inmate who writhed, clenched his teeth and appeared to struggle before prison officials halted the procedure fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out, the White House said Wednesday. The man later died of an apparent heart attack.

US: Al-Qaida affiliates surge, terrorism spikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — A surge in the number of aggressive al-Qaida affiliates and like-minded groups the Middle East and North Africa poses a serious threat to U.S. interests and allies, the State Department said Wednesday in reporting a more than 40 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide between 2012 and 2013.

US gen: Corruption is top threat in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says corruption, not the Taliban, is the worst threat to the future of the war-torn country.

CIA has upper hand in deciding public disclosures

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has directed the CIA to declassify parts of a Senate report criticizing harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, but history shows that the agency is accomplished at preventing embarrassing or damaging disclosures.

Elia Kazan Was a Brilliant, Needy Pen Pal

In letters to the likes of Marlon Brando and Tennessee Williams, the director of ‘On the Waterfront’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ was shrewd about just about everything but himself.