The US Supreme Court appeared sharply divided Wednesday on whether stockholders should be allowed to file class action lawsuits over alleged financial market fraud. The court, known for a gentle approach to the business community, was weighing whether to take up a class-action case against US energy giant Halliburton. In the case, a group of investors charged that they lost money when Halliburton's shares plunged following what the plaintiffs said was an erroneous characterization of earnings. But at issue at the top court was whether the class-action suit should move forward at all.
The White House on Wednesday unveiled another delay in implementing President Barack Obama's signature health law -- apparently to shield vulnerable Democrats in mid-term elections. The Obama administration said that insurers could continue to market health care plans that do not meet the minimum standards of the new law until October 1, 2016. Officials had already offered an extension to people who had the existing plans, amid a political furor over Obama's frequent and now discredited promise that if people liked their health coverage under the new law, they could keep them. The administration said that the move would give consumers more choice in America's health care marketplace.
Potential Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday tried to clarify comments that left the impression she had compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to German dictator Adolf Hitler. Clinton, as President Barack Obama's secretary of state in his first term, was a key player in a U.S. effort to reset relations with Russia, a policy that critics say now appears to be a glaring failure. On Tuesday, Clinton had said Putin's incursion into the Crimea region of southern Ukraine was akin to moves Hitler made in the years before World War Two. Putin justified sending forces into Crimea by saying he wanted to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, which Clinton said was similar to Hitler's vow to protect ethnic Germans in eastern Europe.
California Governor Jerry Brown told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he hoped Israeli water technology could help his state deal with a devastating drought. Netanyahu, on a visit to Silicon Valley, and Brown signed a memorandum of understanding for research and development cooperation in various technological fields, including water conservation. "Israel has demonstrated how efficient a country can be, and there is a great opportunity for collaboration," Brown said. Netanyahu said Israel's expertise in wastewater recycling, desalination and drip irrigation had solved its water problems.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., shouted at his House colleague, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at a committee hearing on Wednesday to look into alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups. “Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this,” Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, told Issa,...
The US Senate rejected President Barack Obama's controversial pick for a prominent civil rights post Wednesday amid a backlash over the nominee's connection to a high-profile convicted cop-killer. Seven members of Obama's Democratic Party joined all Republicans in opposition to help torpedo the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Adegbile is a leading civil rights attorney and was part of the team which helped get Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence commuted to life in prison in 2012. Obama swiftly condemned Adegbile's rejection as "a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant."
Foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia and Western nations agreed on Wednesday to continue discussions in coming days on how to stabilize Ukraine and presented a number of ideas for how to reach that goal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. "We agreed to continue intense discussions in the coming days with Russia, with Ukraine, in order to see how we can help normalize the situation, stabilize it, and overcome the crisis," Kerry told reporters. "Don't assume that we did not have serious conversations which produced creative and appropriate ideas on how to resolve this, we have a number of ideas on the table," he said after meetings with counterparts from Ukraine, Russia, Britain and France in Paris.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that "intense discussions" with Russia and Ukraine would continue in the coming days in the hope of securing a de-escalation of current tensions between them. "We initiated a process today that we hope will eventually lead to de-escalation," Kerry told reporters after a day of diplomatic negotiations in Paris ended with Russia refusing to bow to Western demands for direct talks with the new Ukraine government. Kerry said he would continue talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Rome on Thursday, where both will be for a meeting on Libya.
By Roberta Rampton NEW BRITAIN, Connecticut (Reuters) - A day after unveiling a budget that stands little chance of passing Congress, President Barack Obama traveled to Connecticut on Wednesday to campaign for another proposal that has been dismissed by Republicans: raising the minimum wage. Obama and his fellow Democrats are fighting to keep control of the Senate in November midterm elections, and are promoting populist measures that poll well, like raising the minimum wage, seeking to set themselves apart from Republicans. "It's common sense, that's all I'm trying to say. ...
Severe winter weather hit US economic activity in January and early February but the outlook in most areas "remained optimistic", the Federal Reserve's Beige Book survey said Wednesday. The regional review, which is used by Fed officials to set monetary policy, said unusually harsh storms had hit manufacturing, retail and auto sales and construction, contributing to sluggish growth data. Growth was just "modest to moderate" across eight of the 12 Fed regions, stable in one and slower in three: New York, Philadelphia and Chicago -- all battered by intense snowstorms during the period. Last week Fed Chair Janet Yellen said it was "quite clear" that the intense storms that have battered much of the country are a factor, but that Fed policymakers were studying the data.
The Dalai Lama will lead the US Senate in prayer on Thursday as the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader rallies support among leaders of Congress, aides said. It will mark the first time that the Dalai Lama -- whose activities overseas are strongly opposed by China -- will deliver the prayer that customarily opens each Senate session. The Nobel Peace Prize winner will later meet leaders of both the Senate and House of Representatives, said Kaydor Aukatsang, a spokesman for the Office of Tibet. A Senate aide confirmed the Dalai Lama's meetings.