Political News from Yahoo

U.S. Secret Service reassigns staff, eyes alcohol rules after misconduct

The U.S. Secret Service is reassigning staff and studying changes to its rules on alcohol consumption after agents were sent home following a night of drinking on a recent trip to Europe ahead of President Barack Obama's visit, a spokesman said on Tuesday. "Personnel are being re-assigned as a result of staffing rotations and as a result of assessments made after two recent incidents of misconduct," Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said in a statement. The paper reported that another incident of misconduct occurred in south Florida in early March, when two officers suspected of drinking had a car accident shortly before the Obama family arrived in the area. The paper reported on Tuesday that Secret Service director Julia Pierson had reassigned nearly two dozen members of one of the service's largest divisions as a result of the incidents.

Japan opposition fears Abe 'destabilizing' region

Japan's main opposition leader chided Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for conservative statements on war history and voiced fear he could be a "destabilizing" factor in East Asia. On a visit to Washington on Tuesday, Banri Kaieda, president of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said he remained fully committed to the country's past expressions of regret for its wartime behavior. Kaieda said that the Abe government's remarks and actions had alienated Japan's neighbors as well as its US and European allies by "fueling suspicions that Prime Minister Abe may be a historical revisionist." "Domestically, the Abe administration has now made its authoritarian tendencies clear and internationally, the Abe administration could move beyond the realm of healthy nationalism and become a destabilizing factor in East Asia," Kaieda said.

Secret Service agents reassigned after incidents

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Secret Service has reassigned agents from its special operations division, including the top agent there, after a pair of embarrassing incidents earlier this year.

US air strikes on Syria not 'devastating': Kerry

Threatened military strikes against Syria would not have affected the course of the country's civil war, US Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers on Tuesday. Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said US military action -- ultimately abandoned by President Barack Obama at the 11th hour last year -- would not have had a "devastating impact" on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Obama scrapped plans to launch strikes against Syria after Syria's key ally Russia helped broker a deal to dismantle Damascus's chemical weapons arsenal. At the time, Kerry had argued for military strikes over a limited period against Syria.

Feinstein asks White House to edit torture report

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee appealed to President Barack Obama to reconsider his administration's decision to task the CIA with editing a torture report harshly critical of the spy agency's treatment of terror suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks before it can be made public.

"Cuban Twitter" -- overtly political, poking Castros

WASHINGTON (AP) — Draft messages produced for a Twitter-like network that the U.S. government secretly built in Cuba were overtly political and poked fun at the Castro brothers, documents obtained by The Associated Press show. The messages conflict with claims by the Obama administration that the program had no U.S.-generated political content and was never intended to stir unrest on the island.

US will cut deployed nuke missile force by 50

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will keep its current force of 450 land-based nuclear missiles but remove 50 from their launch silos as part of a plan to bring the U.S. into compliance with a 2011 U.S.-Russia arms control treaty, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

New Jersey legislator may subpoena Christie 'Bridgegate' documents

By Dave Warner TRENTON, New Jersey (Reuters) - A top New Jersey legislator vowed on Tuesday to subpoena Governor Chris Christie's office or a law firm it hired to review the "Bridgegate" traffic scandal case - if documents that supported the review are not handed over by the end of the week. Democratic state Assemblyman John Wisniewski said the state legislative committee investigating the incident, which saw days of gridlock on access roads to a heavily traveled bridge last fall when several lanes were closed in what has been seen as political retaliation, wanted transcripts of some 70 interviews conducted by a law firm Christie hired to review the case. The law firm, Gibson Dunn, late last month released a report clearing Christie, a Republican seen as a top White House contender in 2016, of any wrongdoing. The 360-page report was quickly dismissed by state Democrats as "a whitewash." "We instructed our counsel to seek them out from either Gibson Dunn or the governor's office," Wisniewski told reporters after a closed-door hearing on the matter by the committee leading the probe.

Obama, Republicans battle over bill on pay equity for women

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House and congressional Republicans blasted each other on Tuesday over equal pay in a battle for women's votes as Democrats try to hold the U.S. Senate in the November midterm elections. President Barack Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees for disclosing pay levels to co-workers and attacked Republicans for opposing broader legislation that would make the practice illegal for companies nationwide. Republicans said pay discrimination was already illegal and predicted the Democrat-supported Paycheck Fairness Act would prompt frivolous lawsuits and discourage companies from hiring. The Democratic-led Senate is set to hold a procedural vote on the measure on Wednesday but even if the legislation clears that chamber, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives appears likely to oppose it.

U.S. has not determined legal authority to delay Obamacare mandate

By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. administration has not determined whether it has legal authority to delay Obamacare's individual mandate, which requires most Americans to enroll in health insurance or pay a tax penalty, a senior Treasury official said on Tuesday. Mark Iwry, senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, told U.S. lawmakers the administration sees no reason for delay given that the law allows for exemptions and provides financial assistance for those unable to afford health coverage on their own. "If we don't believe that it is appropriate to be delaying that provision ... then we don't reach the question of whether we have legal authority," Iwry said in testimony before the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee's Health subcommittee. The administration has delayed numerous segments of the 2010 law known as Obamacare during four years of implementation and continues to face speculation about possible new postponements for provisions, including the individual mandate.

Jailed academic's daughter says China stifling Uighurs

The daughter of a prominent Uighur academic told US lawmakers Tuesday that his arrest sent a message China will not tolerate even peaceful expression of grievances by the minority group. Ilham Tohti, an economist in Beijing who has been one of the most vocal critics of China's treatment of the mostly Muslim ethnic group, was detained in January and accused of separatism, a charge that could carry the death penalty. His 19-year-old daughter Jewher Ilham, who studies in the United States, told a hearing in the US Congress that her father was not a separatist and opposed violence. "In fact, he is exactly the sort of person a rational Chinese political structure would seek to engage with in order to address the conditions of the Uighur people," she told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which looks at human rights.