By Gabriel Debenedetti WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans increasingly think Democrats have a better plan for healthcare than Republicans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after the White House announced that more people than expected had signed up for the "Obamacare" health plan. Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats' plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stepped down last week after overseeing the law's rollout, including the HealthCare.gov website's tumultuous first weeks, when many users were unable to access the system to purchase or research their insurance options.
By Warren Strobel TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Despite enduring "a perfect storm" of troubles for U.S. spy agencies over the last 18 months, the director of national intelligence announced on Tuesday that he plans to stay on the job through the end of President Barack Obama's term. Speaking to an industry conference in Tampa, James Clapper detailed a litany of challenges he said have hit the $45 billion-per-year U.S. intelligence-gathering effort, from U.S. budget turmoil and the Syrian war to leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. "The past 18 months is one of the toughest stretches for the intelligence community I've seen in my 50-plus years in the business," Clapper said. Clapper, a former Air Force general who oversees 17 intelligence agencies and is known for his sometimes-blunt language, predicted that spending on everything from spy satellites to human agents would continue to decline.
The United States on Tuesday threatened Russia with new sanctions ahead of high-stakes talks on the Ukraine crisis, as it backed Kiev's right to confront separatist uprisings in its volatile east. The US and the European Union are preparing for their first four-way talks with Ukraine and Russia on Thursday, although hopes are not high for any breakthrough at the Geneva meeting, amid a slew of failures in past weeks. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that with Ukraine threatened with a split between its Russian-speaking east and EU-leaning west, it is hoped the talks could de-escalate tensions. Priorities included trying to get Russia to demobilize pro-Kremlin militias, who have seized control of government buildings in 10 cities in Ukraine's southeast, although Moscow has denied any links to them.
By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Florida Democrat Alex Sink said on Tuesday she would not run in November for the congressional seat she failed to win last month in a close special election that garnered national attention. Sink, the state's former chief financial officer, confirmed her decision on Twitter and in a statement quoted by media outlets. "While I am not running for office in 2014, I will keep an open dialogue with all of you and continue to seek new ways to serve," she said on Twitter. Sink lost the special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District by less than 2 percent of the vote to David Jolly, a former Republican lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Jolly once worked for the Representative C.W. Bill Young, whose death forced the special election in March.
Russia carried out a new test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as tensions over Ukraine escalated, the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday. Russia informed US authorities of the test prior to the launch on Monday, in keeping with an existing weapons treaty, Pentagon spokesman colonel Steven Warren said. "The launch was a previously notified and routine test launch of an ICBM. "The United States and Russia both routinely test their ICBMs and SLBMS."
Detroit reached its first deal with a retired workers group on Tuesday over pension and healthcare benefits and was close to a deal with its two pension funds, giving a major boost to the city's plan to exit bankruptcy in October. Momentum for the city's plan to adjust its $18 billion debt burden was building after Detroit last week won court approval for a crucial settlement over interest rate swaps and reached an agreement with bond insurance companies over the treatment of voter-approved general obligation bonds. Under the deal with the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association announced by U.S. Bankruptcy Court mediators on Tuesday, pensions for retired police and fire workers would not be decreased, but cost-of-living increases would be cut in half. The deal, which is contingent on more than $800 million in contributions for retirees from foundations, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the state of Michigan, marks the first between the bankrupt city and one of its retired worker groups.
(This April 12 story was corrected to change name of organizing group in the third paragraph to Americans for Prosperity Foundation from Americans for Prosperity) By Gabriel Debenedetti MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Conservative Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz tested the 2016 presidential waters at an event on Saturday in the influential state of New Hampshire at which potential opponents from the more moderate wing of the party did not appear. ...
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Under a canopy of trees on the edge of a large field, soldiers from Bravo Battery are lying in a circle as they pore over targeting charts. Nearby, others are preparing the howitzer cannons as helicopters swoop overhead. At the edge of the circle, the platoon leader watches as the field artillerymen go through their training exercise.