By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A prominent Democratic California state senator and gun-control advocate was indicted by a San Francisco grand jury on charges of corruption and conspiracy to traffic in firearms, according to court documents released on Friday. The indictment adds to the troubles facing state Senator Leland Yee, who was arrested last week and criminally charged along with two dozen others in the same case. Yee, 65, is the third California state senator to face criminal charges this year in separate cases that have cost Democrats a cherished two-thirds legislative majority in an election year and prompted them to cancel a major fundraiser planned for this weekend. Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg, who has said that the charges against Yee "sickened" him, on Friday renewed calls for the senator to resign.
U.S. lawmakers have quietly gone along with an annual salary freeze since 2010, but a Virginia Democrat has had enough and said members of Congress are underpaid. Representative Jim Moran, who is not seeking re-election in November, has objected to fiscal 2015 spending legislation that calls for another pay freeze for Congress, keeping lawmakers' salaries at $174,000 a year. "I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid," Moran told CQ Roll Call, a congressional newspaper and website.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The arrest of Jonathan Pollard nearly 30 years ago set off an emotional legal saga that has confronted American presidents and Israeli prime ministers, wound through the courts and divided those who say the convicted spy has paid his debt to society and those who contend the damage he caused was incalculable.
Former US president George W. Bush said relations with Vladimir Putin grew "increasingly tense" during his White House years, as he unveiled his portraits of world leaders, including the Russian head of state. Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former British prime minister Tony Blair, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Dalai Lama are among the two dozen leaders featured in an exhibition of the paintings which opens in Texas on Saturday.
The US State Department warned Americans on Friday of the risks of travel to Kenya, after heightened terror threats and recent violence in some areas. US nationals should "evaluate their personal security situation" before travel, the State Department said, updating a previous warning issued in September after an attack at a major Nairobi shopping mall killed dozens and wounded five Americans. "The US government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at US, Western and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including in the Nairobi area and in the coastal cities of Mombasa and Diani," the warning said. Kenya has been hit by a series of attacks since sending troops into southern Somalia in 2011 to battle Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents -- the deadliest being the assault by extremist commandos on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall that claimed 67 lives.
Several US lawmakers voiced concern Friday for the future of religious minorities in India in a hearing critics denounced as an attempt to influence upcoming elections. With polls starting Monday in the world's largest democracy, several activists testifying before the US Congress' human rights commission expressed fear for the treatment of Muslims and Christians if Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi becomes the next prime minister, as surveys predict. Representative Joe Pitts, a Republican and conservative Christian, said India had a "climate of impunity" for perpetrators of violence against minorities and criticized laws against religious conversion. "Clearly all of Indian society is being affected by an indisputable rise in religious intolerance at the very least and religious violence at the very worst," Pitts said.
President Barack Obama on Friday praised Tunisia as the poster child of the Arab Spring, as Washington unveiled half a billion dollars in loan guarantees during the visit of Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa. Obama said that Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began when fruit vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself alight in 2010, had witnessed the kind of progress sadly lacking in some other nations in the region.