By Marice Richter DALLAS TX (Reuters) - Texas conservatives are hoping to win two major Republican run-off elections on Tuesday, for lieutenant governor and attorney general, underscoring the Tea Party’s enduring influence in the state. Those two races were left undecided after no single candidate crossed the 50 percent threshold in the March 4 Republican primary, setting the stage for what has been a bruising run-off election between establishment candidates and conservative challengers who have the backing of both the Tea Party movement and its Texas star, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. In the race for Lieutenant Governor, Tea Party favorite State Senator Dan Patrick took 41.5 percent of the vote in the four-candidate March primary, and is favored to win on Tuesday. The three-term incumbent, David Dewhurst, finished with 28 percent.
By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama paid tribute on Monday to fallen U.S. military men and women during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery that highlighted a veterans' care scandal that has engulfed his presidency in recent weeks. Just hours earlier, Obama returned from a surprise trip to Afghanistan, where he thanked troops for a mission that will conclude formally at the end of this year.
People-smugglers are looking to target New Zealand now that Australia's tough border protection policies have effectively "closed down" that country to asylum-seeker boats, Prime Minister John Key said Tuesday. While the voyage to New Zealand from places such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka is potentially far more perilous than trying to reach Australia, Key said people-smugglers and asylum-seekers were willing to take the risk in the wake of Canberra's clampdown. "We take this very seriously ... we know it's very hard to come to New Zealand, no one's arguing it's an easy distance or journey," he told TV3. "But the reality is that as Australia closes down as a destination for asylum-seekers, they are trying to open up new frontiers and one of those is New Zealand."
Police in China's restive Xinjiang seized 1.8 tonnes of bombmaking material and detained five people, authorities said Tuesday, following a string of deadly attacks blamed on militants from the Muslim Uighur homeland. China vowed a year-long crackdown on terrorism over the weekend with violence blamed on separatists from Xinjiang increasingly targeting civilians and spreading far outside the western region in recent months. Last week five suspects killed 39 people and wounded more than 90 in a car and bomb assault on a market in the regional capital Urumqi, in an attack condemned as terrorism by both Beijing and Washington. Officers in and around Hotan in southern Xinjiang "destroyed two explosive-making dens and seized 1.8 tonnes of raw material that the gang planned to use to make explosive devices, along with a large amount of partly finished explosive devices", reported the regional government's Tianshan website.
European leaders hold a summit in Brussels Tuesday, their first chance to digest the stunning success of eurosceptic and far-right parties at EU polls which has shaken the continent's political landscape. France's President Francois Hollande called Monday for Brussels' power to be reined in after what newspaper headlines called an "earthquake" in Europe. That tremor was delivered by European voters backing eurosceptics in a stinging rebuke to Brussels, with France's National Front (FN) and Britain's UKIP leading the pack of anti-EU parties.
A controversial nationalist professor in China has had his microblog account suspended after he posted a comment about the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, in which he took part as a student. Kong Qingdong, a professor at the elite Peking University who claims to be descended from the ancient sage Confucius, is well-known in China for his outspoken comments, including a tirade in which he condemned residents of Hong Kong as "bastards" and "dogs". But a remark on the popular Sina Weibo microblogging service -- where he had around 2.75 million followers -- seems to have crossed the line with Communist authorities wary of any discussion of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown, which sees its 25th anniversary next week.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Aiming to diversify and strengthen the nation's technological workforce, President Barack Obama is hosting the White House's annual science fair with an emphasis on the achievements of girls and women and with new initiatives to improve science, technology, engineering and math education.
Iraq's government is dropping barrel bombs and may also be targeting a hospital in its battle with militants in the conflict-hit city of Fallujah, Human Rights Watch alleged Tuesday. The Iraqi authorities denied the claims, which come with Baghdad locked in a months-long standoff with anti-government fighters in Fallujah amid a protracted surge in nationwide bloodshed, all of which is fuelling fears the country is slipping back into the all-out conflict of 2006 and 2007. The New York-based rights watchdog also said abuses committed by the powerful Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadist group -- among the main militant organisations in Fallujah -- likely amounted to crimes against humanity. Iraqi army spokesmen did not respond to AFP requests for comment, but HRW said in its report that the military denied targeting Fallujah's main hospital, and the prime minister's spokesman issued a statement on May 12 denying the use of barrel bombs.
North Korea on Tuesday warned that recent "provocative" activities by US troops at a truce village on the heavily fortified inter-Korean border could lead to a "catastrophic" military clash. The warning came from the head of the North Korean forces stationed in the frontier village of Panmunjom -- where the ceasefire agreement to end fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War was signed. In remarks carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, he particularly cited the construction of a steel watchtower, saying it was being used for "acts of spying" involving sophisticated surveillance equipment. North Korea regularly denounces the US troop presence in the South, but it is unusual for it to focus on activities in Panmunjom -- one of the few avenues of cross-border communication.
By Marice Richter DALLAS, TX (Reuters) - Texas conservatives are hoping to win two major Republican run-off elections on Tuesday, for lieutenant governor and attorney general, underscoring the Tea Party's enduring influence in the state. Those two races were left undecided after no single candidate crossed the 50 percent threshold in the March 4 Republican primary, setting the stage for what has been a bruising run-off election between establishment candidates and conservative challengers who have the backing of both the Tea Party movement and its Texas star, Senator Ted Cruz. In the race for Lieutenant Governor, Tea Party favorite State Senator Dan Patrick took 41.5 percent of the vote in the four-candidate March primary, and is favored to win on Tuesday. The three-term incumbent, David Dewhurst, finished with 28 percent.
Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) - Pop diva Madonna has weighed in on Malawi's chaotic election, criticising embattled President Joyce Banda, who has tried to nullify the vote amid allegations of irregularities. The superstar, who adopted two children from the southern African nation, has been involved in a long-running spat with Malawi's government over her charity work in the country. In a statement posted on the website of her charity Raising Malawi, Madonna accused the government of corruption and of failing its people. "I am so sad to see that because of the actions of their president Malawians will continue to suffer," the American singer said.
He's been president for five and a half years, brought troops home from Iraq, is winding down the Afghan war, killed Osama bin Laden and crafted a multitude of speeches defining his worldview. Yet President Barack Obama still feels the need to make a new attempt to explain his foreign policy to Americans this week. It's a measure of threats to his reputation as a statesman that Obama, who rode a willingness to talk to US enemies like Iran, avoid foreign quagmires and wage war by drone to two presidential terms, is giving the speech at all. Top aides say the speech at West Point military academy Wednesday will set out a broad foreign policy framework for a president who has resisted defining a personal diplomatic doctrine.
Workers in developing countries are increasingly moving to better jobs and joining the middle class, but 839 million workers still earn less than $2.00 a day, the International Labour Organization said. "The developing countries are generally in a process of catching up with the advanced economies," ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters in Geneva ahead of the release of the agency's annual World of Work Report on Tuesday. Between 1980 and 2011, per capita income in the developing countries like Senegal, Vietnam and Tunisia on average grew 3.3 percent each year, which is far faster than the 1.8 percent growth seen in advanced economies, the report said. Today, more than four in 10 workers in the such countries are considered to be in the so-called "developing middle class" -- meaning that they earn more than $4.00 a day -- up from fewer than two in 10 two decades ago, it said.
Udo Voigt, the first member of Germany's far-right anti-immigrant party to enter the European Parliament, has faced legal action in the past with comments such as Hitler was "a great man". The son of a Nazi SA assault division member, Voigt, 62, was the chief candidate for the extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which scored one percent in the German vote for the EU-wide election Sunday. And in 2011 the NPD stirred controversy again, with posters depicting Voigt, on his motorbike, wearing a black leather jacket, with the motto "Gas geben" (Step on It) or literally "give gas" in what some saw as a reference to gas chambers where millions of Jews perished in Nazi extermination camps. Despite its meagre score in Sunday's elections, the NPD has benefited from the recent scrapping of a three-percent threshold for European elections in Germany, enabling it to now send a lawmaker to the European Parliament.