President Barack Obama had a curt assessment of his own administration's latest "breakthrough" in its tangled diplomacy with Vladimir Putin: buyer beware. US officials never held out much hope for talks in Geneva aimed at stemming the chaos in eastern Ukraine that Obama had blamed on Russian support for separatist rebels. But on the face of it, the unexpected agreement between Russia, Ukraine, the EU and United States appeared to address the immediate flashpoints of the latest brushfire in the wider Ukraine crisis. Washington hopes for a window to allow the Ukrainian election to take place next month, and to permit Kiev to carry out promised decentralization reforms that would grant more autonomy to eastern Ukraine, where people lean closer to Russia.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The US ambassador to the UN urged Myanmar on Thursday to intervene to stop communal violence there and protect humanitarian workers in the volatile western state of Rakhine. Myanmar, formerly called Burma, has been shaken by religious unrest in recent years with at least 250 people killed in Buddhist-Muslim clashes since 2012. Violence forced humanitarian workers to flee Rakhine earlier this month, leaving thousands facing looming food and water shortages. "We continue to support Burma’s reforms, but are greatly concerned that without effective government intervention violence in Rakhine could worsen, lives will be lost, and the critically needed humanitarian presence will not be sustainable," Samantha Power said.
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two members of the Supreme Court indicated on Thursday night that the court will ultimately have to decide the legality of National Security Agency surveillance activities. The two justices, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, made the comments during a public event at the National Press Club in Washington. They were responding to questions posed by journalist Marvin Kalb about whether the court would take up cases arising from the recent disclosures about NSA surveillance, most notably by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama mounted a vigorous effort on Thursday to show his signature healthcare law is working and dismissed Republican critics who are using flaws in Obamacare to campaign for ousting Democrats from the U.S. Congress in November. Appearing in the White House briefing room days before leaving the national stage for a week-long trip to Asia, Obama used a news conference to make the case that the Affordable Care Act had mended nicely from its disastrous October rollout. For the healthcare law to succeed, young, healthy people must sign up and pay premiums to offset the healthcare costs for older Americans. Obama's remarks reflected deep concerns at the White House that Republicans may be able to topple Democrats from control of the U.S. Senate in November elections and build on their majority in the House of Representatives.
A group encouraging retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run for president raised $2.4 million in the first three months of this year, more than the group backing Hillary Clinton or those affiliated with Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and other potential candidates, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Carson's spokesman says he is not interested in running for president and he is not affiliated with the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee. The money is a sign that conservative voters are looking beyond the usual political suspects for a presidential candidate, the head of the Ben Carson committee said. "My gut tells me that the American people are looking for a citizen statesman, for a non-politician," said John Philip Sousa IV, a descendant of the "Stars and Stripes Forever" composer who serves as the group's chairman.