By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - Californians headed to the polls on Tuesday for a primary election highlighting rifts in the state's dominant Democratic party, as incumbent labor-backed candidates fought reformers positioning themselves to take on unions in several races. The poll to choose candidates for governor, secretary of state and numerous legislative and congressional offices, was the kickoff to what may be a long and politically bloody election season for Democrats, as the state's open primary system allows the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to square off against each other in November, and in many cases both will be Democrats. "It’s going to be like scorpions in a bottle," said political analyst David Mark, editor of Politix, a Palo Alto- based website. In Los Angeles, 18 candidates were certified to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Congressman Henry Waxman, including former City Council member and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, State Senator Ted Lieu and New Age inspirational author Marianne Williamson.
Last year saw a record 20 million foreign tourists visiting the country, as fears of a Greek exit from the euro receded. Greeks desperately need the cash injections brought by tourists looking for sunshine and to spend their holidays visiting ancient monuments. So a bumper year for tourists would be welcome. In 2014, every indication shows that we are going to break this record," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told a tourism conference last month.
The cry spreads through the Beijing crowd at 11:30 pm, as the first clicks from the army's AK-47s ring out into the darkness. On the Avenue of Eternal Peace, the wide street running north of Tiananmen Square, one protester refuses to believe it. A tricycle cuts through the throngs of protesters. Day and night, Chinese citizens from all walks of life imagined a different future -- one that was not dictated by the Communist Party.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tea party favorite Chris McDaniel and six-term Sen. Thad Cochran dueled inconclusively at close quarters in Mississippi's primary election Tuesday night, an epic struggle in a party deeply divided along ideological lines. GOP governors in South Dakota, Alabama and Iowa all coasted to renomination.
The US Republican establishment suffered an embarrassing political setback Tuesday courtesy of a Tea Party challenger, who battled a long-time Senate incumbent to a draw in a Mississippi race with national implications. Seven other states also held primaries in one of the biggest vote nights of the 2014 campaign season ahead of November's congressional mid-term elections in which Republicans are aiming to take back the Senate from President Barack Obama's Democrats. But all eyes were on Mississippi, where the Tea Party movement poured outside funding into its best chance to oust an establishment Republican Senate incumbent. The conservative movement that promotes small government and lower taxes has had a rough 2014 campaign season, mostly failing to oust mainstream Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
China on Wednesday imposed smothering security in central Beijing on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, a bloody watershed in history that remains taboo in the communist nation. Counting down to the anniversary, the United States demanded the release of scores of people detained in the run-up, as the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong prepared for an annual candlelit vigil that this year is expected to draw as many as 200,000 attendees. Tourists and vendors went about the vast public square at the heart of Beijing, but uniformed and plainclothes officers were stationed at every corner and checking the ID cards of passers-by. One Australian woman said she was prevented from visiting the Forbidden City, where China's emperors lived, as she was not carrying her passport -- not normally a requirement for tourists entering the historic site.
South Koreans voted Wednesday in local elections seen as a spot referendum on President Park Geun-Hye's handling of the April ferry disaster that killed about 300 people, mostly schoolchildren. Although these problems have roots stretching back decades, Park and her ruling conservative Saenuri Party have become a default focus for much of the public grief and anti-establishment anger. Among voters in Seoul, that choice was clearly uppermost in many people's minds. An older voter said she had chosen all Saenuri candidates as a show of support for Park Geun-Hye.
A quarter of a century after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death, Iran remains at a crossroads in navigating its way out of economic and diplomatic troubles, against a backdrop of political infighting. Wednesday marks 25 years of the Islamic republic without its founder, the charismatic spiritual and political leader who remains ever-present on bank notes, portraits in public offices and countless posters. Khomeini is held in awe by the revolutionaries for toppling a US-backed dynasty, with the stated mission of ridding Iran of what he deemed Western decadence and poisonous corruption in government. Dina Esfandiary, an Iran expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, believes Tehran's regional influence has taken a beating, with support for its traditional ally Syria, which is engulfed in a civil war, proving exhausting.
The Australian economy expanded a better-than-expected 1.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014 with a strong rise in mining exports driving growth, data showed Wednesday. The mining sector made up 80 percent of growth in the March quarter as net exports contributed 1.4 percentage points to GDP. Consumption added 0.3 percentage points, but some of the gains were partially offset by inventories, which subtracted 0.6 percentage points. The improved GDP figures were foreshadowed by the Reserve Bank of Australia in its monthly meeting on Tuesday, where it held the cash rate at a record low of 2.5 percent for the 10th straight month.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday said he hopes to seal security and intelligence pacts with Indonesia as he looks to repair ties hurt by spying allegations. Abbott is due to meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday, admitting there had been "rough patches" in the "critically important relationship". Ties sunk to their lowest point for years in November after reports that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of Yudhoyono and his inner circle. This included on people-smuggling -- another sensitive topic with Jakarta unhappy over Australia's military-led operation to stem the flow of boatpeople, who mostly make the journey from Indonesia.
Six Niger opposition figures, including a former government minister, were charged with "violating the security of the state" Tuesday and remanded in custody, their party said. The six are close to parliament speaker Hama Amadou, seen by his followers as the principal rival of President Mahamadou Issoufou in presidential eledctions due in 2016. Among the six are former health minister Soumana Sanda, former Niamey mayor Oumarou Dogari, retired army colonel Abdourahamane Saidou, Amadou Salah, an MP for the Nigerien Democratic Movement (Moden), told AFP.
Pension reform, energy policy and corruption are among the issues expected to feature in the Queen's speech at the state opening of parliament later on Wednesday. Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg attempted to highlight the common ground shared by the governing parties, despite a deteriorating relationship. It was reported that the Queen will announce government plans to give communities the right to take a stake in local renewable energy projects in an attempt to boost alternative energy production.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, recently freed after five years as a captive of the Taliban, may still be disciplined if the army finds evidence of misconduct, the US military's top officer said. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was speaking on Tuesday after claims from members of Bergdahl's unit that he had been captured after abandoning his post.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House is considering nominating the head of the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, Toby Cosgrove, as the next secretary of the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. Eric Shinseki resigned on Friday as secretary of the department amid a political firestorm over widespread delays in veterans' medical care. President Barack Obama has named Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson to lead the agency while he looks for a permanent replacement. ...