Argentina argued Monday that holders of its defaulted bonds have no right to pursue government assets, in the first of two US Supreme Court reviews of its fight against hedge funds. Lawyers for Argentina argued that the government's official assets around the world were protected by sovereign immunity, and as well by the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). But lawyers for the hedge funds, which have won several lower court rounds to compel Buenos Aires to pay up on the bonds, say they have the right to track down assets, such as those held in banks, as they try to recoup their investments. The hearing, and a second one to come, could finally decide the years-long case over whether a country which restructured its debt with a majority of bond holders has to repay a small minority which refused to join the restructuring deal.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will visit bankrupt Detroit this week to highlight the Obama administration's "continued commitment to the city's revitalization and explore ways to promote job creation and economic growth," according to an advisory his department released on Monday. In a draft of its plan for restructuring $18 billion in debt and other obligations released last week, Detroit outlined how it will tap philanthropies for $816 million to cover pension costs and avoid selling pieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts. President Barack Obama has not pledged direct funds to the Motor City, but his administration and Congress are using existing federal programs to provide aid. "As we've said, there is no bailout coming from Washington, but we continue to support the efforts by state and local officials as they work on Detroit's revitalization." The assistance comes as Detroit zeroes in on formulating a final restructuring plan that can win approval from Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden on Monday launched a high-profile visit to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to Ukraine and push for urgent implementation of an international agreement aimed at de-escalating tensions even as violence continues. The State Department said photographs show that some of the forces in eastern Ukraine are Russian special forces
The United States is sending a Navy salvage ship to help South Korea with the recovery of the ferry that capsized last week, the Pentagon said Monday. South Korea has not formally requested the ship, but the USNS Safeguard was being moved from Thailand toward South Korea in case it does, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said. An amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, is already taking part in rescue operations off the southwestern coast where the Sewol sank on Wednesday with 476 people aboard, including 352 high school students on a holiday trip.
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to turn over key portions of a memorandum justifying the government's targeted killing of people linked to terrorism, including Americans. In a case pitting executive power against the public's right to know what its government does, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling preserving the secrecy of the legal rationale for the killings, such as the death of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. Ruling for the New York Times, a unanimous three-judge panel said the government waived its right to secrecy by making repeated public statements justifying targeted killings. These included a Justice Department "white paper," as well as speeches or statements by officials like Attorney General Eric Holder and former Obama administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, endorsing the practice.
By Julia Edwards WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department will widen the criteria it uses to decide which drug offenders to recommend to the president for clemency, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday. The department expects thousands of drug offenders currently serving time to be eligible for reduced sentences under the new clemency guidelines and it will prepare to review an influx of applications, Holder said in a video address. The Justice Department will now recommend more candidates for the president's consideration. "There are still too many people in federal prison who were sentenced under the old regime - and who, as a result, will have to spend far more time in prison than they would if sentenced today for exactly the same crime," Holder said in his address.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to weigh the constitutionality of a U.S. law that was designed to allow American citizens born in Jerusalem - the historic holy city claimed by Israelis and Palestinians - to have Israel listed as their birthplace on passports. The case concerns a long-standing U.S. foreign policy that the president - and not Congress - has sole authority to state who controls Jerusalem. Seeking to remain neutral on the hotly contested issue, the U.S. State Department allows passports to name Jerusalem as a place of birth, but no country name is included. The State Department, which issues passports and reports to the president, has declined to enforce the law passed by Congress in 2002, saying it violated the separation of executive and legislative powers laid out in the U.S. Constitution.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday declined to revive a provision in an Arizona law that sought to criminalize the harboring and transportation of illegal immigrants. The court's decision not to hear the state's appeal leaves intact an October 2013 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that found in part that the provision was trumped by federal immigration law. The harboring provision, part of Arizona's controversial 2010 immigration law, made it a criminal offense to encourage illegal immigrants to enter the state or to harbor or transport them within Arizona. In a 2012 case, the Supreme Court partially upheld other provisions of the 2010 law.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Political and military elites are seizing protected areas in one of Africa's last bastions for elephants, putting broad swaths of Zimbabwe at risk of becoming fronts for ivory poaching, according to a nonprofit research group's report that examines government collusion in wildlife trafficking.