(Reuters) - Michigan officials and President Barack Obama's Administration are discussing a plan to free up $100 million in federal money to aid Detroit's retired city workers, the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday. Citing two people familiar with the talks, the newspaper said the talks were centered around federal money flowing to Michigan for blight removal. Under the plan, $100 million would be earmarked for Detroit, reducing the $500 million the city's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, plans to use to eliminate blight over the next 10 years. A spokeswoman for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declined to comment on the report.
By David Schwartz PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into a law a bill allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without first obtaining a warrant, handing another victory to abortion foes. The Republican-backed bill, which gained final legislative approval from the state Senate last week, removes a provision from state law requiring a judge to approve any spot inspections conducted at the nine clinics in Arizona licensed to perform abortions. No other medical facilities in the state require such a warrant for unannounced inspections. "This legislation will ensure that the Arizona Department of Health Services has the authority to appropriately protect the health and safety of all patients," gubernatorial spokesman Andrew Wilder said in announcing that Brewer, a Republican, had signed the measure.
The United States praised the holding of successful elections in Guinea-Bissau as an "important step" towards a better future after years of political instability and violence. Almost three-quarters of eligible votes cast their ballots in the watershed polls which were the first to be held in the west African nation since a 2012 military coup. "These elections are an important step toward building a more stable, prosperous, and democratic future for the Bissau-Guinean people," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The polls were "a powerful testimony of the strong desire of the people of Guinea-Bissau for constitutional and democratic government," Psaki added in her statement.
By Jonathan Kaminsky OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular. They are the latest touchstones in a longstanding fight over background checks on gun buyers. The debate hinges on whether their expansion constitutes a common-sense approach to keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally unstable or a first step in broader restrictions on gun ownership. Initiative 594 would require all firearm sales, including those at gun shows and conducted online, to be predicated on a background check of the buyer.
Lawmakers probing how General Motors used faulty ignition switches in many vehicles are turning their scrutiny to the supplier of the part, Delphi Automotive. A group of senators on Tuesday wrote to Delphi Chief Executive Officer Rodney O'Neal, asking for information about whether the parts supplier pushed back against GM after the automaker apparently did not accept a proposed fix to the switches. "It is our understanding that a fix was proposed by Delphi regarding the ignition switch in 2005 but GM did not adopt the change," the letter said. "As we continue evaluating the GM recall it is critically important that we understand the decisions made by Delphi and the company's interaction with GM." Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, signed the letter along with three fellow senators - John Thune, the top Republican on the panel, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Dean Heller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.