Political News from Yahoo

EU extends Syria economic sanctions until June 2015

The European Union said Thursday it was renewing economic sanctions against Syria, including an oil embargo and asset freezes against allies of President Bashar al-Assad, for another year. The measures, which will extend to June 1, 2015, affect 179 people "associated with the violent repression in Syria", and 53 entities, including the Central Bank of Syria, the EU said in its Official Journal.

Israel charges two Jews over racist attacks

A 16-year-old arrested earlier this month for scrawling graffiti on and smashing the door and windows of a dentist's practice in Yokneam, an Arab Druze town in northern Israel, was charged on Thursday, the ministry said. On Wednesday, prosecutors filed charges against Adir Yosef, 26, for damaging an Arab-owned car in Yokneam earlier in May. According to the charge sheet, Yosef's alleged felony was part of a wave of 14 racist crimes that took place in and around Yokneam over the past three months. So-called price tag attacks are nationalist-motivated hate crimes by Jewish extremists that mostly target Palestinian and Arab property, but have also included attacks on other non-Jews as well as leftwing Israelis and the security forces.

South Carolina lawmakers repeal Election Day alcohol sales ban

By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON S.C. (Reuters) - South Carolina is poised to allow alcohol to be sold on statewide election days after state lawmakers voted to lift the country's last blanket ban on such sales at restaurants, stores and bars. The state Senate voted 41-1 on Wednesday to repeal the ban, which critics considered an antiquated remnant of an era when saloons sometimes served as polling places. The ban, dating back to at least 1882, was intended to reduce corruption and bribery during elections, according to a state government researcher. "We wanted to bring South Carolina step-by-step into the 21st century," said state Representative Bakari Sellers, a Democrat who has been working to repeal the Election Day alcohol ban for eight years.

Jackie Kennedy’s Return to Arlington

When JFK’s widow visited his grave in 1964, she signaled not just an end to the nation’s period of mourning but opened a new chapter in her own life.

Abandon Hope All Ye Tried in Japan

The 99 percent conviction rate in Japan’s criminal courts is no credit to the efficiency of the system or efforts to reform it.

Did the Economy Have a Heart Attack?

After three years of uninterrupted growth, GDP shrank 1 percent. This isn’t a recession or even the beginning of a recession though.

Syrian regime rains barrel bombs on Aleppo

Syrian government forces rained barrels bombs on Aleppo Thursday, as they pressed a campaign against rebels in the northern city where dozens have been killed this week, a monitor said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said jihadist fighters executed 15 civilians in the northeastern province of Hasakeh. At least seven children were among those killed by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant near the town of Ras al-Ain, it said. The Observatory did not give any immediate toll for Thursday's raids on Aleppo's rebel-held districts, but said regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs on some of the areas.

UN rights chief says Morocco must work harder

UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Thursday Morocco has improved its human rights record but must still work hard to shake off "old habits," such as torture. Pillay, the first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Morocco in 13 years, spoke at a news conference in Rabat at the end of a four-day visit. She said Morocco had made "great strides toward the better promotion and protection of human rights," including the adoption of a new constitution in 2011. UN delegations that have visited Morocco in past years have "expressed concern over the use of torture and ill-treatment as well as the admissibility in court of confessions obtained under torture or other ill-treatment," said Pillay.

Husband of bludgeoned Pakistani woman 'strangled first wife'

Lahore (Pakistan) (AFP) - Pakistan's prime minister Thursday demanded "immediate action" over the murder of a pregnant woman who was bludgeoned to death outside a courthouse, as her husband revealed in a grisly twist that he strangled his first wife. Farzana Parveen was murdered on Tuesday outside the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore by more than two dozen brick-wielding attackers, including her brother and father, for marrying against her family's wishes -- while police stood by. The brazen, brutal nature of the killing, in broad daylight in the centre of Pakistan's second largest city, has triggered outrage around the world. The attack also casts a spotlight on the country's controversial blood-money laws which allow relatives of homicide victims to forgive their perpetrators -- who in cases such as this are often also family members.

Yemen intelligence officer, son shot dead

A gunman riding on the back of a motorbike shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer and his son in the southeastern city of Mukalla on Thursday, a security source said. The attack was carried out in broad daylight in the heart of the port city, capital of Hadramawt province, an Al-Qaeda stronghold, the source said. Colonel Salmin al-Obtani was the latest in a string of army and intelligence officers to be killed in hit-and-run attacks in Hadramawt. Mukalla has also been the scene of a number of spectacular attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda.

EU voices 'extreme concern' over Thai coup crackdowns

Bangkok (AFP) - The European Union has voiced "extreme concern" about political detentions and censorship in Thailand, as the military junta chief met officials and began to set out plans for the country's future.

Malawi vote count hits fresh hitch in court

Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) - Malawi's disputed presidential elections ran into fresh trouble Thursday after a judge due to rule on when the results should be released had to step down from the case. High court judge Healy Potani was scheduled to start hearing the case on Thursday and then rule on Friday whether Malawi's electoral commission could be granted a 30-day extension to hold a recount. But Potani recused himself after his impartiality was challenged on the grounds that one of his brothers is a deputy chief elections officer at the electoral commission. A replacement judge Kenyatta Nyirenda took over several hours later and immediately the hearing started.

Boehner resists calls for U.S. veterans chief ouster, blames Obama

By Susan Cornwell and David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans stepped up their attacks on the Obama administration over a deepening Veterans Affairs healthcare delay scandal on Thursday, but House Speaker John Boehner again declined to join a growing list of lawmakers calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. At a news briefing, Boehner said he was not still convinced that Shinseki's ouster would solve the VA's problems. Instead, he sought to keep the pressure on President Barack Obama for VA scheduling abuses that covered up monthslong delays for veterans' medical care appointments. "I'm going to continue to reserve judgment on General Shinseki," Boehner said.

Why Dems Want the V.A. Chief Gone, ASAP

Just like Kathleen Sebelius with Obamacare, V.A. chief Eric Shinseki now embodies the VA scandal. The longer he stays in office, the bigger the target on his back.

64 Members of Congress Want VA Secretary Gone

After the VA’s inspector general released an interim report Wednesday citing “systemic” misconduct at veteran hospitals throughout the country, a tsunami of lawmakers added their names to what until now had been a small chorus of calls for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign or...

Obama says U.S. needs to choose battles more carefully

After defending his approach to foreign policy in a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., President Barack Obama told NPR that America's leadership in the 21st century will be defined in part by its military strength — "but only in part."

Conservative New Hampshire group endorses Brown rival for Senate

A conservative New Hampshire group on Thursday endorsed former state Senator Jim Rubens' run for the U.S. Senate, posing a challenge to fellow Republican Scott Brown, who is also seeking the party's nomination in the September primary. The Republican Liberty Caucus did not mention Brown, a former U.S. senator for Massachusetts who moved to New Hampshire late last year, in its endorsement but noted that Rubens has lived in the New England state for four decades. At least four Republicans are vying for the chance to oppose the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, in November. The Republican Liberty Caucus is an influential group whose positions jibe with those of Tea Party organizations.

Pro-gun grandson follows in Jimmy Carter's footsteps, sort of

Blessed with his forebear's famous smile and mellow manner, state Senator Jason Carter is trying to emulate grandfather Jimmy in November by winning election as governor. In March he voted for legislation known to its detractors as the “guns everywhere law,” which the National Rifle Association boasts is the most comprehensive of its type ever passed by a state. Carter courted another controversy last month when he said Georgia's drivers had the right to license plates that display the Confederate flag. But those issues are not as important as the fact that he is my grandfather and I love him,” Jason said after a recent campaign event.

Pakistan PM orders 'immediate action' over murdered woman

Pakistan's prime minister Thursday demanded "immediate action" over the brutal murder of a pregnant woman who was bludgeoned to death with bricks outside a courthouse while police stood by. Farzana Parveen was attacked on Tuesday outside the High Court building in the eastern city of Lahore by more than two dozen brick-wielding attackers, including her brother and father, for marrying against the wishes of her family. Hundreds of women are murdered by relatives in Pakistan each year supposedly to defend family "honour", but the brazen nature of the attack, in broad daylight and in the centre of the country's second-largest city, has shocked rights activists. The fact that police officers guarding the court apparently did nothing to intervene to save the 25-year-old has added to the outrage.