Political News from Yahoo

Obamas and friends take in dinner and play in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — Capping two days devoted to praising the advances of the civil rights movement, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended the Broadway revival of "A Raisin in the Sun," a play about an African-American family in 1950s Chicago.


Obama lashes out at Republican efforts to restrict voting

By Jeff Mason NEW YORK (Reuters) - Closing out a week of commemorating progress from the Civil Rights Movement, President Barack Obama on Friday sharply criticized Republicans for leading efforts in some parts of the country to prevent citizens from voting. Obama's administration has challenged states that have implemented voter ID laws and other restrictions in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, designed to prevent discrimination at the polls. Strict voting rights laws are said to disproportionately affect minorities and lower-income Americans, many of whom tend to vote for Democratic candidates. "The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago," Obama told a meeting of the National Action Network, a group founded by civil rights leader and MSNBC television anchor Reverend Al Sharpton.


US sanctions Crimea's breakaway leaders

The United States unveiled sanctions Friday against six of Crimea's breakaway leaders, including the official who signed the deal with Moscow to split the peninsula from Ukraine. US officials have been warning for days that more sanctions against individuals and companies were in the works, as it calls on Moscow to de-escalate tensions and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine's eastern border in the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War. A first wave of US sanctions unveiled in March notably blacklisted officials and businesspeople close to Russian President Vladimir Putin to protest Moscow's takeover of Crimea. The new Treasury sanctions targeted the former vice speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Sergei Tsekov, who helped pave the way toward the March referendum in Crimea that led to its annexation by Russia and was branded "illegal" by the West.


Obama lashes out at Republican efforts to restrict voting

By Jeff Mason NEW YORK (Reuters) - Closing out a week of commemorating progress from the Civil Rights Movement, President Barack Obama on Friday sharply criticized Republicans for leading efforts in some parts of the country to prevent citizens from voting. Obama's administration has challenged states that have implemented voter ID laws and other restrictions in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, designed to prevent discrimination at the polls. Strict voting rights laws are said to disproportionately affect minorities and lower-income Americans, many of whom tend to vote for Democratic candidates. "The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago," Obama told a meeting of the National Action Network, a group founded by civil rights leader and MSNBC television anchor Reverend Al Sharpton.


Major economies express confidence about growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — Finance officials of the world's major economies expressed confidence Friday that they can meet an ambitious goal of boosting global growth by $2 trillion over the next five years.


9 Things You Might Not Know About HHS Nominee Sylvia Burwell

ABC’s Alina Kleineidam reports: After facing scrutiny for the rocky rollout of the president’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, Kathleen Sebelius stepped down on Friday as Health and Human Services secretary. The president nominated Sylvia Burwell, the current director of the Office of Management...


Obamas pay $98,169 in taxes on income of $481,098

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama paid $98,169 in taxes on $481,098 in adjusted income last year, tax returns the White House released Friday show. They paid an effective federal income tax rate of 20.4 percent and donated significantly less to charity than they did the year before.


Rules lag to help passengers escape crashed buses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Safety standards to make large buses easier for passengers to escape after a crash have not been adopted 15 years after accident investigators called for new rules.


White House: no US visa for Iran pick as UN envoy

The United States said Friday it would not grant a visa to Iran's newly appointed UN ambassador, who has been linked to the 1979 hostage crisis, threatening to cloud a gradual thaw in relations. Tehran says Washington's objection to Hamid Aboutalebi is unacceptable and the situation appears to be heading towards stalemate, as well as posing a challenge to President Barack Obama's drive for a diplomatic breakthrough after decades of mistrust between the two sides.


Obama warns Republicans suppressing right to vote

President Barack Obama warned Friday that Republicans were suppressing the right of African Americans to vote in a way not seen in 50 years. "The stark, simple truth is this," Obama said at the annual convention of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton, a prominent community leader. "The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago." Democrats accuse Republican state and local legislatures across the United States of seeking to limit early voting and of introducing punitive identity checks to cut into the core Democratic vote.


Obama Tax Returns Show First Family's Income Has Plummeted Since 2009

During their time in the White House, the First Family’s adjusted gross income has decreased from a high of more than $5.5 million in 2009 to $481,000 this year — largely, it appears, due to the decline in proceeds from the sales of the president’s...


Reporters who broke Snowden story return to U.S. for first time

By Curtis Skinner NEW YORK (Reuters) - Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the U.S. journalists who reported on spy agency analyst Edward Snowden's leaks exposing mass government surveillance, returned to the United States on Friday for the first time since revealing the programs in 2013. Greenwald and Poitras flew into New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on the same flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to receive a George Polk journalism award for their reports on how the U.S. government has secretly gathered information on millions of Americans, among other revelations. Their reporting on the leaks, which began last June, has sparked international debate over the limits of government surveillance and prompted President Barack Obama to introduce curbs to the spying powers of the National Security Agency earlier this year. "I really didn't expect anything to happen, which is why we finally came," Greenwald told reporters after embracing his partner, David Miranda, who had earlier said he was nervous as he waited for Greenwald to pass through airport security.


U.S. government contractor jailed in Cuba ends hunger strike

A U.S. contractor imprisoned in Cuba ended a hunger strike on Friday after eight days of protesting his treatment by the Cuban and U.S. governments while serving a 15-year term for illegally attempting to establish Internet service on the island. "My protest fast is suspended as of today, although there will be further protests to come," Alan Gross said in a statement. Gross was arrested in 2009 while trying to establish an online network for Jews in Havana as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It was his fifth trip to Cuba.


Deputy Secretary of State Burns to retire in October

By Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, who led secret talks with Iran that led to an agreement to curb its nuclear program and who served as the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East as well as ambassador to Russia, will retire in October, officials said on Friday. The departure of the Arabic-, French- and Russian-speaking official will be felt at the State Department, where he was regarded as the leading career diplomat of his generation and only the second to rise to deputy secretary of state. In a 32-year career, Burns held some of the most sensitive and influential jobs in American diplomacy, including as undersecretary for political affairs from 2008 to 2011, ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008 and assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs from 2001 to 2005. "He has been a skilled advisor, consummate diplomat and inspiration to generations of public servants," said U.S. President Barack Obama, adding that he had asked Burns to delay his retirement earlier this year.


NSA denies exploiting 'Heartbleed' vulnerability

The US National Security Agency on Friday denied a report claiming it was aware of and even exploited the "Heartbleed" online security flaw to gather critical intelligence. The stern denial came amid growing panic among Internet users the world over about the newly exposed flaw, after a report by Bloomberg News said the spy agency decided to keep quiet about the matter and even used it to scoop up more data, including passwords. "NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private-sector cybersecurity report," NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in an email. "Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before April 2014 are wrong," White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.


Veteran US diplomat Bill Burns retiring

One of America's longest serving, most experienced and highest-ranking diplomats, Deputy Secretary Bill Burns, who led secret talks with Iran in recent years, is to retire this year, officials said Friday. President Barack Obama praised Burns for his 32-year career saying he had "relied on him for candid advice and sensitive diplomatic missions. Secretary of State John Kerry said Burns, who had agreed to put his retirement on hold when Kerry took up his post in 2013, had had an "enormous impact and influence in untold ways." Burns, who has worked under 10 secretaries of state, was "a diplomat's diplomat, with this terrifically rare mix of strategic vision and operational skill," Kerry said in a statement."


Greenwald back in US after NSA revelations

US reporter Glenn Greenwald returned to his homeland Friday for the first time since he helped expose Washington's vast electronic spying network, warning that more revelations are yet to come. Greenwald, who maintains regular contact with fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, flew into New York with filmmaker Laura Poitras to receive a journalism award for their coverage. Greenwald and Poitras had feared they could be detained upon arrival but told reporters at a Manhattan hotel that, while US officials "deliberately created" a sense of risk, they faced no problem.


US senators file bill to take Kurdish groups off terror list

Two prominent US senators introduced legislation Friday that would remove Iraqi Kurdish organizations KDP and PUK from a terrorist blacklist. The Obama administration supports the move, which officials have said requires legislative action rather than an executive order from the White House. Washington designated the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan as terrorist groups in 2001 in part for their insurgent activity in the 1990s Kurdish civil war.


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