Political News from Yahoo

US will cut Air Force nuke missile force by 50

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says the number of launch-ready Air Force land-based nuclear missiles will shrink to 400 — the lowest total since the early 1960s — as part of a plan for complying with a U.S.-Russia arms treaty.

U.S. insurers still expect cuts in 2015 Medicare payments

U.S. health insurers said on Tuesday they still expected cuts in government reimbursements for privately managed Medicare health plans for the elderly next year even after the Obama administration rolled back the steepest reductions. The government agency that oversees Medicare said late on Monday that on average, reimbursements to insurers for private Medicare plans would rise 0.4 percent, reversing what it said was a proposed cut of 1.9 percent. Republican and Democratic lawmakers had broadly opposed further cuts as well, adding pressure on the administration at a time when President Barack Obama's healthcare law was also under attack. After analyzing the final rate notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and comparing it with their own models, health insurers said on Tuesday that the 2015 Medicare Advantage payment rates represented a cut to payments from 2014 levels.

Kerry raps Israel in faltering Mideast peace

WASHINGTON (AP) — America's top diplomat says talks in the Mideast peace process faltered after Israel last month refused to release prisoners as Palestinian leaders demanded, and then moved forward with new construction in a settlement.

California's senator Yee pleads not guilty to corruption

By Laila Kearney SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A prominent Democratic California state senator and gun-control advocate pleaded not guilty in a federal courtroom in San Francisco on Tuesday to charges of corruption and conspiracy to traffic in firearms. Leland Yee, 65, who was arrested last month and has since been suspended with pay, was criminally charged along with two dozen other individuals in a broad sweep of suspected organized crime and corruption activity in San Francisco. He is the third California state senator to face criminal charges this year in separate cases that have cost Democrats a cherished two-thirds majority in an election year. A 31-page indictment returned by a grand jury last week accuses Yee, a one-time candidate for mayor of San Francisco, of accepting cash from an undercover FBI agent posing as a customer seeking to purchase illegal weapons.

Lawmaker Yee pleads not guilty to federal charges

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Suspended California state Sen. Leland Yee has pleaded not guilty to all charges for his alleged role in a San Francisco political corruption and organized crime case.

Senator calls secret Cuba Twitter plan cockamamie

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Twitter-like Cuban social media network that the U.S. government built to stir unrest was a "cockamamie" idea doomed to discovery and failure, the chairman of a Senate panel that oversees the U.S. Agency for International Development declared Tuesday. He said the agency didn't adequately describe to Congress the program it was secretly operating.

Iran nuclear 'breakout' time at two months: Kerry

Iran is two months away from breakout capability to produce enough nuclear material for a bomb should they resume their mothballed enrichment process, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday. Tehran is in the thick of international negotiations over its nuclear program, with a fresh round of talks beginning on Tuesday in Vienna aimed at starting a draft of an historic final deal. Under a temporary deal which took effect January 20, Iran froze certain nuclear activities for six months in exchange for minor relief from sanctions hurting its economy. A full-bore resumption of enrichment -- a gross violation of the temporary accord -- could see Tehran move swiftly toward nuclear breakout.

Obama to visit mudslide-site Oso on April 22

President Barack Obama will visit the Washington state town struck by a deadly mudslide to meet families affected by the disaster and view the devastation, the White House said on Tuesday. Obama will stop in Oso, Washington, on April 22, before starting out on a week-long trip to Asia. Obama will "view the devastation from the recent mudslide and meet with the families affected by this disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers," the White House said.

U.S. plans balanced cuts to nuclear launchers under treaty with Russia: officials

By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will scale back its land, sea and air nuclear missile launchers under the New START treaty with Russia, but it will not retire a ballistic missile squadron as some lawmakers had expected, U.S. officials told Reuters. The U.S. military will disable four missile launch tubes on each of its 14 nuclear submarines, convert 30 B-52 nuclear bombers to conventional use and empty 50 intercontinental ballistic missile silos, senior administration officials said on condition of anonymity. The New START treaty, which was agreed in 2010 and went into force on February 5, 2011, called for the United States and Russia to cut their deployed nuclear weapons to 1,550 apiece by 2018, down from the previous ceiling of 2,200.

Russians sent to foment 'chaos' in east Ukraine: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday that Russia was sending agents into eastern Ukraine to "create chaos" the Kremlin could use as a pretext for more military intervention. With tensions again on the boil in Ukraine, Kerry said he would meet next week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Washington seeks to tamp down the most serious East-West crisis since the Cold War. But Kerry bluntly accused Russia of mounting an "illegal, illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state."

North Carolina lawmaker tapped to replace mayor charged with bribery

By Colleen Jenkins WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - A North Carolina legislator has been appointed to serve as mayor of the state's largest city of Charlotte two weeks after the previous mayor resigned following his arrest on corruption charges that included accepting bribes. State Senator Dan Clodfelter will be sworn in on Wednesday. Charlotte hosted the 2012 Democratic Party National Convention. The city council chose Clodfelter, 63, on Monday night to complete the two-year term of former mayor Patrick Cannon, charged by U.S. prosecutors in March of taking more than $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as commercial real estate developers and investors wanting to do business in the city.

Obama, Senate Democrats take aim at gender pay gap

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress are making a concerted election-year push to draw attention to women's wages, linking Obama executive actions with pending Senate legislation aimed at closing a compensation gender gap that favors men.

USAID chief to face questions on 'Cuban Twitter'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development on Tuesday is beginning a series of appearances before lawmakers asking questions about his agency's secret "Cuban Twitter," a social media network built to stir unrest in the communist island.

More popular than French leader, selling his ideas

PARIS (AP) — France's new prime minister is a Socialist who has disavowed the word, a cipher on the economic policy he must sell to both the French people and the European Union, and an unapologetically ambitious climber more popular than his conciliatory boss.

Send MH370’s Black Boxes to U.S.

If the data recorder is ever found, Malaysia won’t have the expertise to deal with it. Would the country admit as much, though?

Russia’s Ace in the Hole

It’s Washington’s nightmare scenario: an aggressive Moscow deciding it’s time to arm Tehran with sophisticated weapons. And it may be closer to reality than you think.

The $100 Million Superhero Dud

The biggest threat to ‘Captain America’ and the superhero film is not HYDRA or S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s the clunky, overblown CGI climax that’s become a signature of the genre.