In a stunning defeat, number two House Republican Eric Cantor has been ousted by a conservative primary challenger, in a body blow to the Republican establishment. Majority Leader Cantor, a powerful party insider who was widely seen as a future speaker of the House, lost his Richmond, Virginia seat to Tea Party-backed insurgent David Brat, who was deemed such a longshot he barely received media airtime and was outspent by Cantor more than 25 to one.
By David Alexander and Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A closed-door congressional hearing on the release of Bowe Bergdahl failed to calm Republican anger on Tuesday over the administration's secretive deal to trade five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo for the U.S. prisoner of war. But a group of former soldiers defended the exchange and accused lawmakers of stoking the furor over the prisoner swap for political gain. The Pentagon said Bergdahl, an Army sergeant, was improving at the U.S. military hospital in Germany where he was being treated. A spokesman acknowledged it was "going to be a long process." A senior lawmaker confirmed reports Bergdahl had been kept in a cage while held prisoner by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Brasilia (Brazil) (AFP) - President Dilma Rousseff will go into diplomatic overdrive as the World Cup kicks off Thursday, with meetings planned with two dozen leaders including Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, as Brazil soaks up the global spotlight. Despite affording less time to the international arena than her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff has a chance during the Cup to strut the diplomatic stage on home turf. "Foreign policy during the Cup will be important, because of the large number of visitors at a time when Brazil's international agenda is full of pressing issues," David Fleischer, professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia, told AFP.
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver must face claims that he “aided and abetted” a former assemblyman’s sexual harassment of two young female employees by failing to take official action, a U.S. judge ruled on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres rejected Silver’s bid to throw out the lawsuit, which was filed last summer by Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera in federal court in Manhattan. The women accused longtime Brooklyn power broker Vito Lopez of subjecting them to a barrage of unwanted sexual advances. Silver had previously helped broker a secret settlement with two women who had accused Lopez of harassment, using $103,000 in public funds.
US President Barack Obama Tuesday called for national "soul searching" over gun violence, warning that mass shootings were "off the charts" in a way no other advanced country would tolerate. Obama vented frustration and disbelief that there was no political momentum for gun reform in the wake of a new spate of mass shootings, in impassioned remarks likely to touch off a new row with the powerful firearms lobby. "We are the only developed country on earth where this happens, and it happens now once a week," Obama said at the White House, hours after a gunman shot and killed a student at an Oregon High School in the latest incident. The president tried and failed to introduce a ban on assault weapons and to require more stringent background checks for gun buyers after the Newtown massacre in which 20 children and six adults were killed in December 2012.
President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration on Tuesday at the inability by Washington to enact even modest gun control measures, in the aftermath of a rash of shootings around the United States. This is becoming the norm and we take it for granted in ways that as a parent are terrifying to me," Obama said in answer to a question at a White House online event sponsored by Tumblr. Obama spent the early part of 2013 trying to persuade Congress to approve legislation to approve legislation after a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children were killed. The move would have imposed some restrictions on gun ownership but the effort failed amid pressure from the National Rifle Association lobby.
US diplomat Jen Psaki hit back Tuesday at Russia's "propaganda machine," accusing it of being behind a series of Internet slurs mocking her for stumbling over her words. As spokeswoman for Secretary of State John Kerry, Psaki runs the gauntlet of the world's media in her daily briefings, when she is quizzed on US foreign policy in the full glare of the cameras. The attacks have been led by the Russian state-run television network RT, whose reporters have had a couple of run-ins with Psaki during the briefings, which put together a slide show called: "Jen Psaki's most embarrassing fails." But Psaki hit back Tuesday, saying the attacks on her were "sexist" and adding "many people know that there are efforts by the Kremlin and the propaganda machine to discredit a range of officials, including recently myself, as silly as that is, because the United States supports a strong, democratic Ukraine."