Political News from Yahoo

Legal victory for big-money campaign donors to be felt in states, courts

By Lawrence Hurley and Gabriel Debenedetti WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the overall cap on federal election contributions is sending ripples across American politics, as states have begun backing away from their own restrictions on donations and lawyers are forecasting a new wave of challenges to campaign finance laws nationwide. The court's 5-4 ruling on Wednesday was unsettling for many Washington fundraisers, donors and lobbyists who were comfortable with federal rules that had limited total donations to candidates and party groups to $123,200 in the 2014 election cycle. Now, thanks to the court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, donors who are able to give millions of dollars to candidates and their parties will see their influence expanded - much as it was by a 2010 ruling that inspired the creation of independent "Super PACs" and other groups that could receive unlimited donations. Both rulings are part of a series of decisions by the conservative-led Supreme Court that have given big-money donors more influence in U.S. elections.


Hillary Clinton: Partisanship taking US backwards

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday night that excessive partisanship flowing through the nation's political system is causing the U.S. to march "backwards instead of forward" and pointed to fall elections as a sign of how the country might tackle problems.


Observant Senator Went to the Wrong Meeting and Talked to the Wrong Guy for Two Minutes

Indiana senator Dan Coats had some questions for Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Mike McCord at an appropriations subcommittee hearing yesterday. This would have been fine except that McCord was in a meeting down the hall. Coats was in the wrong room, and he was talking to Department of the Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen, something Coats did not realize despite the fact that Cohen was clearly labeled as such.


U.S. warns China not to attempt Crimea-style action in Asia

By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China should not doubt the U.S. commitment to defend its Asian allies and the prospect of economic retaliation should also discourage Beijing from using force to pursue territorial claims in Asia in the way Russia has in Crimea, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday. Daniel Russel, President Barack Obama's diplomatic point man for East Asia, said it was difficult to determine what China's intentions might be, but Russia's annexation of Crimea had heightened concerns among U.S. allies in the region about the possibility of China using force to pursue its claims.


Obama briefs top political leaders on Russia showdown

US President Barack Obama sought to solidify top congressional leaders behind his strategy to isolate Russia and support Ukraine after Moscow's annexation of Crimea. The comparatively rare talks between the president and leaders from both parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate on a foreign policy issue took place after the president signed a bill providing Kiev with $1 billion in loan guarantees. A White House official said Obama briefed House Speaker John Boehner and the chamber's top Democrat Nancy Pelosi, as well as Senate leader Harry Reid and Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell on his consultations with top world leaders in Europe last week amid the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War.


Senate panel votes to declassify report on CIA interrogations

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Thursday to declassify its long-awaited report on the CIA's use of brutal interrogation methods that critics say amount to torture. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who chairs the committee, said the vote was 11-3 to declassify what she called the "shocking" results of investigating the Central Intelligence Agency practices under Republican President George W. Bush. The vote to lift the blackout on the summary and recommendations of the 6,200-page report follows an unprecedented clash by Feinstein with the CIA, and would give the world its first official look at its regimen of interrogation and detentions in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. This is not what Americans do," Feinstein told reporters after the committee voted during a classified meeting.


Obama briefs congressional leaders on Ukraine crisis

By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama brought congressional leaders to the White House on Thursday for talks on the Ukraine crisis, with diplomatic efforts between the United States and Russia facing a hard slog. A week after a trip to Europe that was dominated by meetings to discuss ways to react to Russia's annexation of Crimea, Obama sat down with Democratic and Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Obama last spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday by telephone.


Too soon to draw conclusions in Fort Hood shooting: Hagel

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Thursday acknowledged security gaps after a deadly shooting at a military base in Texas but appealed for patience to allow investigators to "do their work." Hagel said it was too soon to draw any conclusions as a litany of questions remained unanswered 24 hours after a soldier killed three people at Fort Hood before turning the gun on himself. We don't know all the facts," Hagel told a news conference in Honolulu, where he hosted a meeting of ASEAN defense ministers. The Pentagon chief said the department had recently introduced new measures to tighten security after a shooting spree at the Washington Navy Yard in September that claimed 12 lives.


White House defends 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Thursday defended its creation of a Twitter-like Cuban communications network to undermine the communist government, declaring the secret program was "invested and debated" by Congress and wasn't a covert operation that required White House approval.


Biden and Greek leader discuss economy and Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden has discussed Greece's economic future and the situation in Ukraine with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (ahn-TOH'-nees sah-mah-RAHS').

US reaches $5.15 billion environmental settlement

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government on Thursday reached a $5.15 billion settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the largest ever for environmental contamination, to settle claims related to the cleanup of thousands of sites tainted with hazardous chemicals for decades.


Senate panel votes to release CIA interrogation report

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to release key parts of its classified report on the CIA's brutal interrogation program, with President Barack Obama urging the sharply critical findings quickly be made public. The 6,300-page report of the Bush-era program, which has triggered extraordinary tensions between the Central Intelligence Agency and its congressional overseers, details one of the most unsavory periods in the agency's history. "The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking," committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein said after the 11-3 vote. The vote allows Feinstein to send the 400-page executive summary and key recommendations to the White House, which said Obama wants the declassification "completed as expeditiously as possible."


Senate panel votes to declassify report on CIA interrogations

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Thursday to declassify its long-awaited report on the CIA's use of brutal interrogation methods that critics say amount to torture. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who chairs the committee, said the vote was 11-3 to declassify what she called the "shocking" results of investigating the Central Intelligence Agency practices under Republican President George W. Bush. The vote to lift the blackout on the summary and recommendations of the 6,200-page report follows an unprecedented clash by Feinstein with the CIA, and would give the world its first official look at its regimen of interrogation and detentions in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. This is not what Americans do," Feinstein told reporters after the committee voted during a classified meeting.


Obama's NSA overhaul may require phone carriers to store more data

By Mark Hosenball and Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's plan for overhauling the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program could force carriers to collect and store customer data that they are not now legally obliged to keep, according to U.S. officials. One complication arises from the popularity of flat-rate or unlimited calling plans, which are used by the vast majority of Americans. ...


Fort Hood Shooter Had Lengthy but Unremarkable Military Career

The Army service record of Spc. Ivan A. Lopez, who has been identified as the shooter who killed three fellow soldiers and injured 16 others at Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday, revealed a lengthy though unremarkable military career. Lopez, a native of Guayanilla, P.R., was...


US secretly created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest

WASHINGTON (AP) — In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba's communist government.


Panel rejects design for Eisenhower Memorial

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal commission that oversees plans for monuments in the nation's capital voted Thursday to reject the current design for a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower, sending the concept back to its architects for revisions.


Letterman’s Surprise Sign Off

The ‘Late Night’ host phoned his boss then walked on stage Thursday to tell the audience—and the world—he’s quitting next year.


United States steps up pressure on Japan to make good on trade promises

By Krista Hughes WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States pressed Japan on Thursday to open its farm and auto markets to overseas competition and said it could not expect special treatment in a Pacific trade pact covering one-third of global imports and exports. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told U.S. lawmakers that Japan's reluctance to lower trade barriers was holding up agreement on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would stretch from Asia to Latin America. ...


Jobless bill heads for vote on passage next week in Senate

Legislation backed by President Barack Obama to restore jobless benefits for 2.3 million Americans advanced on Thursday toward anticipated passage next week in the Democratic-led Senate. On mostly party-line votes of 60-36 and 61-35, the bill cleared the last two in a series of Republican procedural hurdles in recent weeks, setting up a vote on passage on Monday. The action came after Democrats refused to let Republicans offer an amendment to the measure, which prompted Republicans to refuse to agree to a vote on passage on Thursday. The bipartisan legislation seems certain to die once it reaches the Republican-led House of Representatives.

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