Political News from Yahoo

Rail safety effort marred by squabbling

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurred by a series of fiery train crashes, a push by government and industry to make safer tank cars used for shipping crude oil and ethanol has bogged down in squabbling and finger-pointing over whether they're needed and if so, who should pay.


Was Madeline McCann One of Many?

A new development in the formerly closed case finds detectives scrambling to uncover new leads stemming from the revelation that a suspect in 18 other nearby break-ins fit the same description.


Cuban top diplomat meets with attorney of jailed American

Cuba's top diplomat has met with a lawyer for jailed US contractor Alan Gross who is serving a 15-year term in Cuban prison, his defense team said Wednesday. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met with Gross's lawyer Scott Gilbert on Wednesday in Havana, stressing Cuba's willingness to speak with the United States on the case, Gilbert's team said in a statement released in Washington. Rodriguez emphasized that Cuba would place no preconditions on such a negotiation," the statement explained.


Defense: FBI probe in 9/11 trial has implications

FORT MEADE, Maryland (AP) — The defense team for five people facing trial before a war crimes tribunal stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks claimed the implications of the FBI's questioning of one of its members are "staggering" and called on the court to probe the incident aggressively, according to a motion unsealed on Wednesday.

Hagel seeking to deepen US-Mexico ties

MEXICO CITY (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday he is exploring ways to deepen U.S.-Mexican defense ties, including the possibility of training exercises with Mexican forces.


Zohydro: Ticking Time Bomb?

FDA-approved Zohydro is raising red flags in medical circles and consumer protection groups.


Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy

Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda. As the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan winds down, the White House will soon provide Congress a dossier on about 50 non-Afghan detainees in a U.S. military prison north of Kabul. Their uncertain fate presents sensitive security and legal problems for the Obama administration in an echo of Guantanamo Bay.


US rejects Lavrov's 'ludicrous' Ukraine claims

The United States dismissed as "ludicrous" Wednesday claims by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that it was funding or running an offensive in Ukraine as Washington and Moscow again traded barbs. "I think many of the claims he made in his interview are ludicrous and they're not based in facts of what is happening on the ground," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. In an interview with state-controlled RT television, Lavrov had issued a blunt warning that Russia would respond if its interests were attacked in Ukraine, in a sign Moscow was upping the ante in the crisis. Ukraine's acting president Oleksandr Turchynov late Tuesday ordered a new "anti-terrorist" operation against separatists holding a string of eastern towns after the discovery of two "brutally tortured" bodies.


Exclusive: White House considers former banking lawyer for Fed board - sources

By Jonathan Spicer and Emily Stephenson NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former lawyer with the American Bankers Association is being considered by the White House as a possible nominee to the board of the Federal Reserve, according to sources familiar with the efforts The lawyer's name emerged as the White House weighs candidates with community banking backgrounds to fill gaps on the Federal Reserve's powerful but depleted board, the sources said. People familiar with the White House's process said administration officials may fill one of the remaining openings with someone with banking experience, as opposed to an economist. Two sources said the administration is considering Diana Preston, a lawyer who recently left a post at the American Bankers Association, which represents many small banks.


Democratic governors challenge Connecticut campaign finance law

The U.S. Democratic Governors' Association on Wednesday sued the state of Connecticut, saying its laws on political spending are unconstitutionally broad and limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates. The lawsuit said the state unfairly treats independent money spent on ads and other political messages by the national group as contributions to particular candidates, and thus subject to campaign finance limits. "Connecticut's campaign finance laws ... conflict with Supreme Court First Amendment precedent and place a cloud of uncertainty over what DGA may say or do without fear of prosecution," the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut said. It asked a judge to block the State Elections Enforcement Commission from enforcing its rules.


Hagel begins first trip to Latin America as U.S. defense chief

By David Alexander ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday his first trip to Latin America as Pentagon chief would add "muscle and sinew" to growing North American defense ties and highlight the importance of helping partner nations improve their militaries. Hagel, who will meet his Canadian and Mexican counterparts in Mexico City before traveling to Guatemala, said the three-day visit will give him an opportunity to focus on relationship-building in a vital area that often receives little attention. "The region is important to America," Hagel told reporters aboard his plane to Mexico City. "I don't think over the years we've probably ever done enough to reach out to our Latin American partners." He said part of the reason was that U.S. relations in the region have been stable and good in recent years, so Washington has tended to focus its attention on the world's trouble spots.


Palestinian unity may 'complicate' peace bid: US

The United States on Wednesday warned that a deal to form a Palestinian unity government could seriously hamper its already floundering efforts to forge a peace deal with Israel. Any Palestinian government must commit "unambiguously" to the principles of non-violence and to the existence of Israel as well as to already agreed treaties, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, restating a long-held US position. "It's hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist." Washington was both "disappointed" and "troubled" by Wednesday's announcement of a rapprochement between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) -- internationally recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinian people -- and the Islamist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, Psaki said.


US urged to drop India WTO case on solar

Environmentalists Wednesday urged the United States to drop plans to haul India to the WTO to open its solar market, saying the action would hurt the fight against climate change. The World Trade Organization's dispute settlement body in Geneva has scheduled Friday to hear the US case for a panel against India, which has some of the world's most ambitious plans for expanding solar power. US Trade Representative Michael Froman, announcing the move in February, said President Barack Obama's administration would "stand up for US workers and businesses" to break barriers to the Indian market.


US top court rules on damages in child porn cases

The US Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that victims of child pornography should be able to receive financial compensation from one or more recipients of their pedophile photographs. Two of the pictures were found in the possession of Doyle Paroline, who the victim is suing for $3.4 million, an amount corresponding to the total cost of psychotherapy and loss of income resulting from the sexual abuse. A US appeals court in the southern United States found in her favor, but Paroline took the case to the top court. A minority, consisting of conservative Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, said Paroline should pay nothing at all, because the amount of the damages were arbitrarily set.


US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.


First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama has announced a new online effort to link soldiers leaving the military with jobs that match their skill sets.

Spy plane outlasts Cold War, but not defense cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U-2 spy plane outlasted the Cold War, outlived its successor and proved crucial a half-century ago when two superpowers were on the brink of nuclear war.


U.S. Justice Department announces clemency review of drug offenders

By Julia Edwards and Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department laid out new clemency guidelines on Wednesday that are expected to make thousands of drug offenders eligible for a reduction in the sentences they are currently serving. Under the new guidelines, inmates that were sentenced under laws that have since changed, have served at least 10 years of their sentence and are nonviolent may be re-examined by the Justice Department and suggested to the president for clemency. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who announced the details of the plan, said the most obvious candidates for review were those sentenced before a 2010 law that lowered the terms for crack cocaine possession charges. "These older, stringent punishments that are out of line with sentences imposed under today's laws erode people's confidence in our criminal justice system," Cole said at a news conference on Wednesday.


Washington calls S.Sudan violence an 'abomination'

The White House has expressed horror at what it called the "abomination" of spiralling violence in South Sudan's civil war, where rebels have been accused of massacring hundreds of civilians. The rebels seized the oil hub of Bentiu last week, unleashing two days of ethnic slaughter as they hunted down civilians sheltering in mosques, churches and a hospital, butchering dozens on the roadside, according to the United Nations. "We are horrified by reports out of South Sudan that fighters aligned with rebel leader Riek Machar massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Images released by the United Nations show piles of bloated, decomposing bodies strewn in several areas -- a repeat of mass killings seen in other areas of the country over the past four months.


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