Political News from Yahoo

Texas candidate faces thorny death penalty choice

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The death penalty is like gun rights in Texas politics: Candidates don't dare get in the way of either. But Republican Greg Abbott, the favorite to succeed Gov. Rick Perry, must soon make a decision as attorney general that could disrupt the nation's busiest death chamber.

Congress is giving states the transportation blues

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — On the road in a tour bus this week, the U.S. transportation secretary is spreading some bad news: The government's Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke. If allowed to run dry, that could set back or shut down projects across the country, force widespread layoffs of construction workers and delay needed repairs and improvements.

Democrats have outside money advantage - for now

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-pocketed donors are turning over multimillion-dollar checks to influence November's elections, and the sums raised by the national parties and their super PAC allies are already approaching the $1 billion mark, according to financial reports still being filed Tuesday evening.

Former Army sergeant to receive Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to former Army Sergeant Kyle J. White, who put his own life at risk in an hours-long effort to save fellow service members during a 2007 ambush in Afghanistan.

US Coast Guard seize $110 million worth of cocaine

The US Coast Guard said Tuesday it had seized an estimated $110 million worth of cocaine during two recent operations in the Caribbean. The combined bust of 3,300 kilos (3.63 tons) is "one of the largest in a long time," Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney told AFP. The first seizure occurred south of Jamaica on March 15, where the Coast Guard found about 97 bales containing some 2,400 kilos of cocaine floating near a fishing boat suspected of smuggling drugs. The Coast Guard pursued the vessel in the southwest Caribbean Sea, firing warning and disabling shots that prompted the crew to dump 900 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated wholesale value of $30 million.

Obama congratulates UConn on NCAA dominance

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has congratulated the University of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams on winning last week's NCAA tournaments.

Americans increasingly prefer Democrats on healthcare: Reuters/Ipsos poll

By Gabriel Debenedetti WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans increasingly think Democrats have a better plan for healthcare than Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after the White House announced that more people than expected had signed up for the "Obamacare" health plan. Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats' plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stepped down last week after overseeing the law's rollout, including the HealthCare.gov website's tumultuous first weeks, when many users were unable to access the system to purchase or research their insurance options.

Despite tough patch, U.S. intelligence chief says he is staying

By Warren Strobel TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Despite enduring "a perfect storm" of troubles for U.S. spy agencies over the last 18 months, the director of national intelligence announced on Tuesday that he plans to stay on the job through the end of President Barack Obama's term. Speaking to an industry conference in Tampa, James Clapper detailed a litany of challenges he said have hit the $45 billion-per-year U.S. intelligence-gathering effort, from U.S. budget turmoil and the Syrian war to leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. "The past 18 months is one of the toughest stretches for the intelligence community I've seen in my 50-plus years in the business," Clapper said. Clapper, a former Air Force general who oversees 17 intelligence agencies and is known for his sometimes-blunt language, predicted that spending on everything from spy satellites to human agents would continue to decline.

US warns of new sanctions as key Ukraine talks loom

The United States on Tuesday threatened Russia with new sanctions ahead of high-stakes talks on the Ukraine crisis, as it backed Kiev's right to confront separatist uprisings in its volatile east. The US and the European Union are preparing for their first four-way talks with Ukraine and Russia on Thursday, although hopes are not high for any breakthrough at the Geneva meeting, amid a slew of failures in past weeks. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that with Ukraine threatened with a split between its Russian-speaking east and EU-leaning west, it is hoped the talks could de-escalate tensions. Priorities included trying to get Russia to demobilize pro-Kremlin militias, who have seized control of government buildings in 10 cities in Ukraine's southeast, although Moscow has denied any links to them.

Kidnapped Libyan guard at US embassy escaped captors

A Libyan security guard at the US embassy in Tripoli escaped her captors after being kidnapped and is in hospital recovering from injuries, the embassy said Tuesday. She was able to escape," embassy spokesman Joe Mellott told AFP.

Vice President Biden Applauds Boston's Courage

On the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 200 others, Vice President Joe Biden paid tribute today to the bravery and courage of survivors and first responders. “In my career I’ve been part of or witnessed...

Democrat Alex Sink bows out of Florida congressional race

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Florida Democrat Alex Sink said on Tuesday she would not run in November for the congressional seat she failed to win last month in a close special election that garnered national attention. Sink, the state's former chief financial officer, confirmed her decision on Twitter and in a statement quoted by media outlets. "While I am not running for office in 2014, I will keep an open dialogue with all of you and continue to seek new ways to serve," she said on Twitter. Sink lost the special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District by less than 2 percent of the vote to David Jolly, a former Republican lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Jolly once worked for the Representative C.W. Bill Young, whose death forced the special election in March.

Spain judge defies pressure to scrap Guantanamo case

Madrid (AFP) - A Spanish judge on Tuesday defied pressure to scrap a probe into alleged torture in the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay which targets former US president George W. Bush.

Russia in new ballistic missile test: Pentagon

Russia carried out a new test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as tensions over Ukraine escalated, the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday. Russia informed US authorities of the test prior to the launch on Monday, in keeping with an existing weapons treaty, Pentagon spokesman colonel Steven Warren said. "The launch was a previously notified and routine test launch of an ICBM. "The United States and Russia both routinely test their ICBMs and SLBMS."

Detroit police, fire retirees reach pension deal: court mediators

Detroit reached its first deal with a retired workers group on Tuesday over pension and healthcare benefits and was close to a deal with its two pension funds, giving a major boost to the city's plan to exit bankruptcy in October. Momentum for the city's plan to adjust its $18 billion debt burden was building after Detroit last week won court approval for a crucial settlement over interest rate swaps and reached an agreement with bond insurance companies over the treatment of voter-approved general obligation bonds. Under the deal with the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association announced by U.S. Bankruptcy Court mediators on Tuesday, pensions for retired police and fire workers would not be decreased, but cost-of-living increases would be cut in half. The deal, which is contingent on more than $800 million in contributions for retirees from foundations, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the state of Michigan, marks the first between the bankrupt city and one of its retired worker groups.

Union fights push to hire private tax collectors

WASHINGTON (AP) — A public employees union is fighting a bipartisan effort in Congress to force the Internal Revenue Service to hire private contractors to collect some delinquent taxes.

Walker kicks off re-election campaign with rallies

DANE, Wis. (AP) — Republican Gov. Scott Walker, touting nearly $2 billion in tax cuts over the past three years and the addition of more than 100,000 jobs, officially launched his re-election campaign Tuesday with a series of rallies across Wisconsin.