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- Obama reassures Japan, other allies on China ahead of visit
By Linda Sieg and Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has said Washington welcomes China's rise but that engagement with Beijing would not come at the expense of its Asian allies - as Chinese state media greeted his imminent arrival in the region with a broadside accusing the United States of wanting to "cage" the emerging superpower. Obama's remarks, aimed at reassuring Japan and other allies, set against a robust commentary from China's state news agency Xinhua that also called the United States "myopic", demonstrate the delicate balancing act Obama faces on a week-long Asia tour. The four-nation trip that starts in Tokyo later on Wednesday comes at a time of rising tension in the region, and as the United States urges Japan's unpredictable neighbor North Korea not to conduct another nuclear test.
- Obama, Abe under pressure to salvage signature Pacific trade pact
By Linda Sieg and Krista Hughes TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman arrived in Japan earlier than expected on Wednesday, Japanese media said, for a last ditch push for a two-way deal seen as crucial to efforts to create one of the world's biggest trade pacts. Froman, who had been expected to arrive in Tokyo with U.S. President Barack Obama later in the day, was likely to meet Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari, the reports said. Talks have been snagged largely on Japan's insistence on protecting politically powerful farm sectors such as beef. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament the talks were tough but Japan was trying to keep some tariffs.
- U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday further undermined the use of racial preferences in higher education by upholding a voter-approved Michigan law that banned the practice in decisions on which students to admit to state universities. The 6-2 vote and the four opinions issued by justices in the majority revealed divisions on the court as to the legal rationale in rejecting civil rights groups' challenge to the ban. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the sole dissenting opinion, read excerpts from the bench, calling the decision a blow to "historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights." The court emphasized that it was not deciding the larger and divisive question of whether affirmative action admission policies can be lawful. But the decision made it clear that voter-approved affirmative action bans can withstand legal challenges.
- California GOP hopeful wants free college for science, math students
By Jennifer Chaussee BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools. Kashkari's proposal would waive tuition for students pursuing a four-year degree in any science, technology, electronics, or math subject in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings after graduation. It came as Kashkari, trailing a distant third in recent polls behind incumbent Jerry Brown and Republican Tea Party favorite Tim Donnelly, is struggling to add momentum to his campaign before the June primary.
- Supreme Court hears challenge to ban on 'false' campaign speech
By Joan Biskupic WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices across the ideological spectrum voiced doubts on Tuesday about a state law that prohibits false statements during a political campaign. The Ohio law allows candidates and other citizens to file a complaint for allegedly false slogans, prompting a state election commission hearing and public scrutiny of advocacy groups' or individuals' claims in the middle of a campaign. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Republican appointee, speculated that calling in a group's leaders "to justify what (they're) going to say" could impinge on free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Democratic appointee, observed that simply being forced to defend an advertisement could be costly and diminish speech at a crucial point in a campaign.
- Nate Silver or Not, GOP Looks Good
- Yes, Lincoln Would’ve Done ‘Ferns’
- For Obama and Boehner, just maybe, a way forward
The latest snowfall was a bigger story in Washington this week than Tuesday’s private meeting between the estranged president and House speaker — their first in more than a year. Since Barack Obama recently signaled he has all but given up on legislating with Republicans, and since John Boehner has flat out said he can’t trust the president, the assumption in Washington is that the chances for big legislation anytime soon are basically zero, whether the White House breaks out the good china or not.
- John Kerry finds his calling
Ten years ago this week, John Kerry barely held off John Edwards in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary, prolonging for another few weeks his plodding, uninspiring march to the party’s presidential nomination. Kerry went on to lose an eminently winnable election, after which most Democrats in Washington expected him to disappear, like Walter Mondale or Michael Dukakis.
- In New York, real populism and real choices
Democrats in Washington don’t have to worry much about the kind of fratricidal disorder that plagues the modern Republican Party. But neither should they take too lightly the intraparty breach that seems to be widening in New York, where the mayor of the nation’s biggest city is staring down the governor of its third largest state.
- Pro-Russian insurgents hold journalist hostage DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine say they are holding an American journalist captive.
- Boogeymen and shady deals define spin for Senate
- Report on CIA interrogations shadows Gitmo trials
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate's forthcoming report on the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques could add to the legal complications facing the long-delayed U.S. military tribunals of terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
- Republican activists push party on gay marriage LAS VEGAS (AP) — As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger voters by de-emphasizing social issues.
- Today in History Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.
- Washington Insiders Say Chris Christie Won 2013 After a whirlwind year of crippling partisanship, bungled policy rollouts, and a government shutdown, most public figures are leaving this year with quite a few more chips to their image than they had in January. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—a growing puzzle for Democrats and continuing headache for his fellow Republicans—emerged as the winner of 2013 on the political stage, according to a National Journal Political Insiders poll. Sixty percent of Democrats said Christie had the best 2013 of political figures, while 71 percent of Republicans said the same. The runners-up were barely any competition, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scoring 24 percent from Democrats and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pulling a mere 11 percent from GOP insiders.
- Sorry Pope Francis, 2013 Was the Year of Quinoa This year has seen tanking approval ratings for just about everybody in Washington, thanks to bungled policy initiatives, stalled legislation, and a government shutdown. It's quinoa, a highly nutritious, centuries-old grain, at least according to the United Nations. In February, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 the international year of quinoa, not for the grain's place in Western society as a healthy, even upscale ingredient that's tough to pronounce, but for its impact on food security around the world. The price of quinoa, often called "the miracle grain of the Andes" for its origins, has tripled since 2006, The Guardianreported early this year.
- 2013 Was Actually the Year of Quinoa Between bungled or stalled policy initiatives and a government shutdown, moving the needle on progress on either side proved nearly impossible. According to the United Nations, 2013 was the year of quinoa, a highly nutritious, centuries-old grain. In February, the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization declared 2013 the international year of quinoa, not for the grain's place in Western society as a healthy, even upscale ingredient that's tough to pronounce, but for its impact on food security around the world. The price of quinoa, often called "the miracle grain of the Andes" for its origins, has tripled since 2006, The Guardianreported early this year.
- Republican Insiders to Tea Party: You're Not Helping Us For Republicans, the group is something akin to a flesh-eating virus that threatens to chomp away at the GOP. The civil war between establishment and tea-party Republicans intensified this week when House Speaker John Boehner slammed outside conservative groups for "ridiculous" pushback against the bipartisan budget agreement, which cleared his chamber Thursday. Sixty-five percent of Republican influencers on the Hill called tea-party challengers to Republican lawmakers "very unhelpful" to the GOP, according to a National JournalPolitical Insiders poll published Friday. Their presence on the campaign trail leads to further splintering of the Grand Old Party, whose widening rift between establishment and tea-party members has not gone unnoticed by both Democratic opponents and the general public.
- Republican Look-Alike Sites Mocking Democrats May Violate Rules The National Republican Congressional Committee proudly launched a faux campaign website for Democratic candidate Domenic Recchia this week, mocking him as a "career politician … asking for your vote." They even bought Google ads to direct New Yorkers to www.domenic-recchia.com, designed at first glance to look like it could be Recchia's own, down to the same yellow star replacing the dot in the 'i' of his last name. The problem is such a look-alike site, with a banner blaring "Domenic Recchia for Congress," may violate Federal Election Commission regulations for confusing the public, election lawyers say. (Screengrab) "This doesn't even strike me as a close call," said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign watchdog group. The Recchia site is just the latest in a series of mocking microsites the NRCC has put online to attack, taunt, and otherwise annoy Democratic congressional candidates from Montana to New York to West Virginia.
- Young Money Talks an Old-School Game in Washington
The heir to a billion-dollar hotel fortune, Patrick Gage, is an avowed warrior in the global fight against human trafficking. But ask him out for a beer to talk about it and he would, by the letter of the law, be compelled to turn down...
- Obama: 8 Million Health Care Sign-Ups a Boon for Democrats President Obama has many times declared victory for the Affordable Care Act, most recently with the announcement earlier this month that 7 million people have signed up in the law’s inaugural year. Today, with a slight grin, he added a big exclamation point. Now, 8...
- Obama Tells Wounded Warriors They Are 'Inspiration'
President Obama welcomed Wounded Warriors on their Ride to the White House today calling the participants “an incredible inspiration to me and to our country.” “Biking nearly 60 miles in three days would be a challenge for anybody, but for all of you, this is...
- China and rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
China, the United States, Japan and more than a dozen other Asia-Pacific countries have signed a naval agreement aimed at ensuring miscommunication between ships at sea does not escalate into conflict. The Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, which was agreed Tuesday in the eastern port city of Qingdao, would reduce the potential for "situations to arise that could lead to conflict in busy sea lanes", the state-run China Daily said. China is embroiled in a series of territorial disputes with neighbours in the South and East China Seas which have frequently led to military jets being scrambled but not open conflict. Gary Li, an analyst with the consultancy IHS, described the agreement as "the ideal thing for China to grab hold of -- the rules of the road."
- Australia boosts air power with $11.6 bln purchase of 58 F-35s
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Wednesday the purchase of 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters costing Aus$12.4 billion ($11.6 billion) in a major defence upgrade to maintain Australia's regional edge. The new aircraft will bring Australia's total JSF force to 72, with the first due to arrive in 2018 and enter service in 2020. The deal with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin includes an option to buy a further 18 planes and is additional to the purchase of 14 F-35s Australia already approved in 2009. Abbott said the planes would cost about $90 million each but noted that one of the largest defence purchases Australia has ever made was budgeted for.
- Pentagon chief headed to Mexico, Guatemala
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel will depart Wednesday for Mexico City to hold talks with his counterparts from Canada and Mexico aimed at bolstering Washington's security ties to its neighbors. Hagel's three-day trip to Mexico and Guatemala will underline "America's commitment to this region," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters. The visit follows a Pentagon announcement for a planned sale of 18 Apache helicopters to Mexico. Kirby said the helicopters would "improve the security of a strong, strategic partner in Mexico, both in terms of combating organized crime and drug trafficking."
- The Chelsea Clinton Birthers
- Kerry tells Russia of 'deep concern' over Ukraine: official
US Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of his "deep concern" Tuesday over Moscow's failure to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine, a senior State Department official said. Kerry also warned that a lack of Russian progress on a deal struck in Geneva last week would lead to more sanctions, the official added. The latest flurry of US diplomacy came as Ukraine relaunched military operations against pro-Kremlin separatists, while Russia already has tens of thousands of its troops massed on Ukraine's eastern border. "He urged Russia to tone down escalatory rhetoric, engage diplomatically in the east with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and Ukrainian government, and issue public statements calling for those occupying buildings to disarm and stand down in exchange for amnesty."
- Australia to buy 58 US F-35s for $11.6bn
Australia will purchase 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at a cost of Aus$12.4 billion ($11.6 billion), the government said. The new aircraft will bring Australia's total JSF force to 72 aircraft, with the first due to arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service in 2020. "The F-35 will provide a major boost to the Australian Defence Force's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement released late Tuesday. The deal is in addition to 14 F-35s Australia already approved in 2009.
- The Court Was Right on Race
- Moscow’s War on Social Media
- US 'closely watching' for signs of N.Korea nuclear test
The United States said Tuesday it was watching "very closely" following South Korean warnings that North Korea may be preparing a fourth nuclear test ahead of a visit to Seoul by President Barack Obama. "North Korea has a history of taking provocative action and we are always mindful of the possibility that such an action could be taken," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama departed for his week-long trip to Asia. Carney said any action by North Korea would "most likely be in violation of numerous commitments that the DPRK (North Korea) is bound by, but of course that is something that they unfortunately have done many times." He declined to comment on the validity of a South Korean defense ministry briefing which cited increased activity at North Korea's main nuclear test site.
- Top US court wrestles with TV, copyright and 'cloud'
A powerful coalition of the broadcast and cable TV industries asked the panel to rule against the startup Aereo, which allows customers to rent a tiny Internet-linked antenna to watch or record over-the-air broadcasts, raising difficult copyright questions. A similarly strong alliance that includes several technology firms and consumer groups is pressing for a different outcome, saying a ruling for Aereo would send a signal in favor of technological innovation. Justices appeared ambivalent at times, questioning whether Aereo was violating copyright law and mulling a possible impact on the burgeoning cloud computing sector, which stores all kinds of materials online. Justice Stephen Breyer queried what might happen if Aereo were found to be in violation.
- States can ignore race in university admissions: US top court
The US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that states can disregard race as a factor in university admissions, in a fresh blow to a legacy of the 1960s civil rights movement. The 6-2 ruling upheld the constitutionality of a measure passed by referendum in Michigan that disallowed so-called affirmative action in college admissions. Effectively favoring voter initiatives over the courts, the decision was expected to have repercussions far beyond Michigan -- governors of Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and West Virginia had supported Michigan's appeal. The ruling was the latest to chip away at a practice used to promote racial and ethnic diversity of university student bodies while countering the effects of racial discrimination.
- Jimmy Carter urges US, China leadership on climate
Former US president Jimmy Carter on Tuesday urged his country and China, two of the world's biggest fossil fuel polluters, to take the lead on halting climate change. If the two economic and political giants could agree on a way forward, the rest of the world would likely follow their lead, the statesman told AFP on the sidelines of a climate change discussion with students at the Paris Institute of Political Science. He said he had encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping along these lines, and has had discussions with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Carter took part in the Paris meeting on Earth Day as a representative of The Elders, a grouping of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to promote peace, justice and human rights.
- Do not hurt Russian people with sanctions: Jimmy Carter
Former US president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday the West should not impose sanctions that would hurt the Russian people over their leaders' actions in Ukraine. "So far, we have limited the sanctions to the leadership of Russia, and I think that is the proper approach," the Nobel peace laureate told AFP on the sidelines of a discussion in Paris on climate change. US Vice President Joe Biden earlier warned Russia of "more costs" and "greater isolation" if it continued to "pull Ukraine apart". Carter, who is credited with brokering the 1978 Cape David peace accords between Egypt and Israel and establishing US diplomatic relations with China, said Russia's takeover of Crimea had been "inevitable".
- GOP: Ukraine Is Obama’s New Syria
Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sees disturbing parallels between the Obama administration's current policy in Ukraine and what he sees as its failures in Syria.
- Passover Hell Week
- Uber’s New “Safety” Fee
- The Internet’s ‘fhqwhgads’ Cartoon
Geändert: 10.12.2010 19:40 Uhr