WASHINGTON (AP) — A day after hailing the Civil Rights Act as a lasting legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency, President Barack Obama is using another civil rights forum to issue an election-year warning against erosion of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that helped pave Obama's path in politics.
An unusual "Tweet-up" -- a meeting of people who know each other on Twitter -- involving an ambassador, an astronaut and a prime minister has taken place on a video-link between Japan and the International Space Station. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy chatted with the Japanese commander of the ISS, Koichi Wakata, as he circled the Earth hundreds of miles up. "Congratulations Commander Wakata on being the first Japanese commander of the space station and I am glad that we follow each other on Twitter," Kennedy said. "Ambassador Kennedy, it's quite an honour that you follow my tweets," Wakata replied.
By Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning after overseeing the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, a White House official said on Thursday. Her departure removes one lightning rod for critics as Obama and nervous Democrats try to retain control of the U.S. Senate in November midterm elections, but Republicans continue to see problems with the Affordable Care Act as a winning issue. I think it's just going to embolden Republicans," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. The October 1 launch of new Obamacare health insurance marketplaces, which was plagued by computer problems that stymied access for millions of people, has been condemned by Republicans as a step toward socialized medicine.
Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) - US President Barack Obama threatened fresh sanctions against Moscow if it escalates the crisis over Ukraine, as pro-Russia separatists faced a Friday deadline from Kiev to lay down their arms. The president stressed that the United States, the European Union and other global partners must "be prepared to meet further Russian escalation with additional sanctions," the White House said in a statement, after Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone on Thursday. The United States also delivered the warning to Russia at World Bank/IMF meetings in Washington, amid worries that a spiralling Ukraine crisis could hurt the world economy. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told his Russian counterpart Finance Minister Anton Siluanov that in addition to the sanctions that followed Russia's annexation of Crimea last month, "the United States is prepared to impose additional significant sanctions on Russia if it continues to escalate the situation in Ukraine," the Treasury said.
A classified U.S. Senate report found that the CIA's legal justification for the use of harsh interrogation techniques that critics say amount to torture was based on faulty legal reasoning, McClatchy news service reported on Thursday. The report also concluded that the CIA used interrogation methods that were not approved by its own headquarters or the U.S. Justice Department, impeded White House oversight and actively evaded oversight both by Congress and its own Inspector General. The CIA also provided false information to the U.S. Justice Department, which used that information to conclude that the methods would not break the law because those applying them did not specifically intend to inflict severe pain or suffering, the report added. "The report's findings appear to show that the CIA systematically misled Congress, the White House, and the Department of Justice about its brutal and unlawful interrogation program," said Raha Wala, senior counsel at Human Rights First in Washington.