Political News from Yahoo

Judge finds Texas abortion rules unconstitutional

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Tough new Texas abortion restrictions are on hold after a federal judge found Republican-led efforts to hold abortion clinics to hospital-level operating standards unconstitutional in a ruling that spares more than a dozen clinics from imminent closure.

Hundreds protest in town where US black teen was slain

More than 1,000 protesters marched in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, peacefully reprising recent demonstrations over the shooting this month of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer, US media reported. The New York Times wrote that some protesters called for more demonstrations on Monday, urging motorists to tie up traffic on the Labor Day national holiday. The August 9 killing of Michael Brown, 18, and the subsequent crackdown on demonstrators in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson revived a debate about race in the United States, and sparked condemnation of the militarization of the nation's police forces. Ferguson was hit with several days of at times violent protests and clashes in the wake of Brown's shooting by white police officer Darren Wilson.

300 injured as police clash with protesters in Islamabad

At least 300 people were wounded in clashes between police and protesters in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, hospital officials said Sunday, as a fortnight-long political impasse took a violent turn. The violence, which began late Saturday and continued early Sunday, erupted after around 25,000 people marched from parliament to the prime minister's house, where some attempted to remove barricades around it with cranes, an AFP reporter at the scene said. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Islamabad police chief Khalid Khattak told AFP police exercised restraint but the protesters were armed with axes, wire cutters and hammers.

White House sends congratulations to EU's Tusk, Mogherini

The White House on Saturday sent congratulations to Polish Premier Donald Tusk and Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini on their election to top posts within the European Union. "The president congratulates Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland on his election as President of the European Council, and Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini of Italy on being chosen as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy," a White House statement said.

US urges 'peaceful dialogue' in Lesotho

The United States on Saturday called for "peaceful dialogue" in Lesotho, after the prime minister said he was forced to flee the country after the military seized power. "The United States is deeply concerned by clashes between security forces today in Lesotho, and calls upon government officials and all parties to remain committed to peaceful political dialogue and to follow democratic processes in line with the Lesotho Constitution and principles of the rule of law," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Brazil poll favorite rows back on gay marriage

Brazilian surprise package Marina Silva, whom polls suggest could oust incumbent Dilma Rousseff in October presidential elections, rowed back on liberal social policy Saturday after dropping a program reference to gay marriage. Silva, an ecologist and evangelical Christian who once served for the ruling Workers Party as environment minister, holds conservative opinions on abortion as well as gay marriage but says she backs civil unions for same-sex couples. The new version reads that Silva will "defend rights relating to civil unions between same-sex couples." The wording was amended as Silva, the daughter of rubber tappers who only learned to write in her teens and wants to become in her words Brazil's first "poor, black" president, visited Rio's Rocinha slum accompanied by former soccer star and would-be Rio senator Romario.

Boko Haram kill scores in captured Nigeria town

Boko Haram gunmen have killed scores of residents in a Nigerian town on the border with Cameroon that they captured in recent raids, witnesses told AFP on Saturday. The militants seized Gamboru Ngala earlier this week after taking over military and police facilities in a fierce gun battle which forced thousands of residents across the border into Cameroon. The residents fled to Fotokol for fear of attack by the Islamists, despite being told they were only after security personnel and local vigilantes. "They are now killing people like chickens," said Sidi Kyarimi, a Gamboru resident who fled to Fotokol on Friday.

In Texas, Cruz sounds like he's running in 2016

DALLAS (AP) — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz sounds increasingly like he's made up his mind to run for president in 2016, telling an influential gathering of conservative activists Saturday that "we are part of a grassroots fire that is sweeping this country."

Syria jihadists free 4 Lebanese soldiers, policeman held hostage

Four soldiers and a police officer kidnapped in the east of Lebanon nearly a month ago were freed late Saturday by the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, a security service official told AFP. The five "taken hostage by the Al-Nusra Front have been freed and have arrived in Arsal," a Lebanese town on the border with Syria, he said. "They are still not in the hands of the security services," he added. The men were taken from Arsal on August 2 during a fierce battle between the Lebanese army and jihadists who had crossed the border from Syria.

Palestinian Authority to pay Hamas staff 'as soon as possible'

The Palestinian Authority will pay its employees' August salaries on time and Hamas civil servants in Gaza "as soon as possible", a spokesman for the unity government said Saturday. On Tuesday, Hamas and Israel agreed an Egypt-mediated ceasefire to end a deadly 50-day war with Israel in Gaza that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians. Saturday's move comes after a row over pay erupted between the two Palestinian factions in June when the PA's Gaza-based staff received their wages but their Hamas counterparts went empty-handed.

Tusk: unflappable leader who has steered Poland through crisis

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk is a pro-European free marketeer who has earned the reputation of being an unflappable leader able to turn even the most difficult situations to his advantage. With political roots in Poland's anti-communist Solidarity trade union, the football-mad historian named on Saturday as the EU's next president started out as an underground journalist. After a bloodless end to communist rule was negotiated in Poland in 1989, Tusk and a group of friends in his Baltic Sea hometown of Gdansk founded the Liberal Democratic Congress, pushing for sweeping privatisation of the state-run economy. He has the distinction of steering Poland though the global financial crisis as the only EU state to maintain growth.

Mogherini: Italy's young rising star

Italy's Federica Mogherini, named the European Union's new foreign policy chief on Saturday, is a member of what Prime Minister Matteo Renzi calls the up-and-coming "Erasmus generation". The 41-year-old former foreign minister represents the kind of Europe that Italy is aiming for: open and internet-savvy, closer to young people and based more on common values than the single currency. Her candidacy initially ran into difficulties as Eastern European countries criticised her for being both too inexperienced and too close to Moscow -- a key issue given the crisis in Ukraine.

Captives held by Islamic State prove tough quandary for Obama

By Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After Islamic State's beheading of journalist James Foley, President Barack Obama's administration is making little headway in efforts to secure the release of three other Americans held by the insurgent group in Syria, officials said. Journalist Steven Sotloff and two others whom Reuters is not naming are among fewer than 10 Westerners that Islamic State (IS) is holding in kidnappings that until recently were aimed at simply raising ransoms, they said. Washington has contacted about two dozen countries for help in freeing the three, but no foreign government appears to have influence over or even significant contact with IS, which has declared an Islamic caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

120 injured as police clash with protesters in Islamabad

At least 120 people were wounded in clashes between thousands of police and protesters in Pakistan's capital Islamabad Saturday, as a fortnight-long political impasse took a violent turn when opposition groups attempted to storm the prime minister's residence. The protesters had been camped outside parliament house since August 15 demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit, claiming the election which swept him to power last year was rigged.

5 highlights from California's legislative session

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown has until the end of September to sign or veto the hundreds of bills sent to him by the Legislature. Here are five notable actions, some of them firsts in the country, that state lawmakers took in the final days of this year's legislative session, which ended early Saturday:

Obama, Harper discuss NATO summit, Iraq in phone call: White House

President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper talked by telephone on Saturday to discuss next week's NATO summit in Wales and the situation in Iraq, the White House said. "Both leaders agreed on the importance of ensuring Alliance unity on measures to strengthen NATO's readiness and responsiveness to the full range of current and future threats," the White House said in a statement. Obama stressed that agreeing on increased defense investment in all areas would be a top priority at the NATO summit, it added.

Israel agreed Gaza truce to focus on jihadist threat: Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel agreed to a permanent truce in its 50-day Gaza war with Hamas in order to keep focused on the threat from regional militants. "We fought for 50 days and we could have fought for 500 days, but we are in a situation where the Islamic State is at the gates of Jordan, Al-Qaeda is in the Golan and Hezbollah is at the border with Lebanon," Netanyahu said in an address on public television. He was referring to Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq -- both neighbours of Jordan -- Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front Syria rebels on the Israeli-annexed Golan and Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah. "We decided not to get bogged down in Gaza, and we could have, but we decided to limit our objective and restore calm to Israeli citizens," Netanyahu added.