Political News from Yahoo

Obama urges African nations not to make economic 'excuses'

By Annika McGinnis WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday gave a preview of a summit he will hold with African leaders next week, saying African nations should look inward for solutions to economic woes and not make "excuses" based on a history of dependence and colonization. Speaking to 500 young Africans finishing a six-week Washington leadership fellowship, Obama said while it was important for developed countries to consider providing some targeted debt relief, it was time to end the notion that all of African nations' problems resulted from "onerous debt imposed by the West." "At some point, we have to stop looking somewhere else for solutions, and you have to start looking for solutions internally," Obama told the enthusiastic audience. “And as powerful as history is, and you need to know that history, at some point, you have to look to the future and say, ‘OK, we didn’t get a good deal then, but let’s make sure that we’re not making excuses for not going forward.’" Next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington will convene economic and political leaders from across Africa to discuss the continent’s development and the U.S. role in partnership and investment.

Millions fled homes in 2013 due to religious conflict: US

Washington (AFP) - Conflicts and repression around the world last year triggered the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory, the United States said Monday, revealing millions had fled their homes.

Rebels claim Kiev now controls part of MH17 site

Shakhtarsk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Ukraine's army on Monday seized control of part of the vast site where Malaysian airliner MH17 crashed, insurgents said, as the United Nations announced the downing of the plane could constitute a war crime.

Ernst back from military training to Senate race

URBANDALE, Iowa (AP) — Senate GOP candidate Joni Ernst has returned from two weeks of training with the Iowa National Guard to a contest against Democrat Bruce Braley that has become one of the nation's closely watched in the run-up to the midterm elections.

Russia hit by $50 bn Yukos ruling amid sanctions squeeze

London (AFP) - An international court ordered Russia on Monday to pay Yukos shareholders a record $50 billion compensation over its seizure of the defunct oil giant, a new blow for Moscow on top of sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

Egypt slams 'excessive' Israeli force against Gaza civilians

Egypt on Monday condemned Israel for using what it said was "excessive force" against civilians in the Gaza Strip. It also urged Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian movement that dominates the Gaza Strip, to abide by the "humanitarian truce" proposed by Cairo and backed by the United Nations to end the 21-day conflict.

Former Virginia governor, wife go on trial on corruption charges

By Gary Robertson RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - Jury selection began on Monday in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, with the couple charged with selling political favors for a loan, gifts and vacations. McDonnell, 60, a Republican once mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, and the former Virginia first lady face a 14-count indictment alleging they accepted about $165,000 from a Virginia businessman in exchange for helping his dietary supplement company. ...

Obama briefed on Ebola outbreak as U.S. agencies provide support: U.S. official

President Barack Obama is getting updates on the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, an administration official said on Monday, noting U.S. agencies had increased their assistance in the past several weeks. The outbreak of the highly infectious disease has killed 672 people. The United States has been providing supplies including personal protective equipment, the administration official said. "We have been engaged on this outbreak since April, when the first cases were reported and have increased response significantly over the last several weeks as the outbreak deepened," the official said.

US fuming over Israeli criticism of Kerry

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry's latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a "misinformation campaign" against the top American diplomat.

US weapons for Afghans may end up with Taliban: audit

Washington and Kabul have failed to keep track of hundreds of thousands of weapons provided to Afghanistan, raising the risk that some could end up in the hands of insurgents, a US audit said Monday. The United States also had delivered more weapons than Afghan forces now needed, partly because Kabul officials had revised their requests over time, the report said. "Given the Afghan government’s limited ability to account for or properly dispose of weapons, there is a real potential for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents," the report said. Record-keeping and inventory efforts by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were "poor" and the inspector general's inspections at supply depots revealed missing weapons and other discrepancies, the report said.

Boehner urges US solidarity with Israel

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner said Monday that support for Israel must be the United States' main focus and not peace mediation in a subtle jab at the Obama administration.

FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is proposing a $12 million civil fine against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with safety regulations related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners.

S.Africa to press US to extend Africa trade act

South Africa will press the United States to extend a key trade pact for another 15 years at a meeting in Washington next week, the trade minister said Monday. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), due to expire next year, provides preferential market access for some products from African countries deemed to be democratic and following good economic governance. "We believe that the Agoa has been a useful platform for cooperation between Africa and the US and we are calling for an extension for 15 years," Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told a news conference. The total combined trade between South Africa and the US last year was around $12 billion (9 billion euros) and was reasonably balanced, Davies said.

U.S. veterans deal to provide $17 billion to ease medical wait times

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of the Veterans Affairs committees in the U.S. Congress said on Monday they had struck a rare compromise deal on legislation that provides about $17 billion in funding to ease long waiting times for VA medical centers. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, and Representative Jeff Miller, a Republican, said the figure marks about the halfway point between the competing proposals they announced last week. The compromise measure aims to clear months-long waiting lists at VA hospitals and clinics across the country. The agency has been rocked by scandal over cover-ups of these waiting times, prompting the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in late May. In Phoenix, doctors have alleged that some 40 veterans died as their names languished on secret waiting lists while officials misrepresented wait-time data to meet targets for bonus compensation.

No Labels? No results? No problem.

Like other outside political groups, No Labels spends a large part of its budget maintaining and promoting its own organization. And though No Labels has positioned itself as a warrior against gridlock, in an internal document obtained by Yahoo News, the group is banking on more political dysfunction in an attempt to find “opportunity” and relevance for itself. The confidential document, distributed at No Labels’ May executive board meeting, outlines a “break through strategy” for the group, which despite raising millions and a buzzy-for-cable-news-talk launch, has struggled to find a foothold on the campaign trail or in the halls of Congress. The first point in that “break through strategy” is a “balance of power shift in the U.S. Senate,” a precarious position to outline, if not advocate, given No Labels’ aim of bipartisanship and that one of the group’s co-chairs, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, currently sits in the majority caucus.

With new default looming, Argentina urges calm

Argentina admitted Monday it may default on some of its debts but downplayed the consequences, just two days before time expires in negotiations with hedge funds demanding full payment on their bonds. Officials are flying to New York on Monday to take a fresh stab at breaking the impasse with the so-called "holdout" hedge funds, who refused to join the restructuring of debt left by a 2001 default. A US judge has blocked payments on the restructured debt as long as Argentina refuses to pay the holdouts, which it brands "vultures".

What Happened When 3 Politicians Tried a Minimum Wage Budget

  Have you ever seen a congressman snacking on a measly tin of sardines? Or maybe a governor ordering a McChicken off the dollar menu? In Washington this week that scene was reality for three Democratic politicians who are taking the Live the Wage challenge....

Chinese president wields economic might on LatAm tour

Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a nine-day Latin American tour in Cuba on Wednesday, heading home with dozens of deals underlining Beijing's growing interest -- and influence -- in the region. Xi kicked off his trip at a summit of the BRICS emerging powers in Brazil, then traveled to Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba -- three countries that have often been among the most outspoken critics of US dominance over the region. His charm offensive began with the announcement by the BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- of a new $50-billion development bank and $100-billion reserve fund designed to provide an alternative to the Western-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund. "A new beginning, a new perspective, a new motivation," he said at the launch of the development bank on July 15.