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- Obama to call for increases in budget for SEC, CFTC: White House
President Barack Obama's fiscal 2017 budget will call for an 11 percent increase in funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission and a 32 percent increase for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a White House official said on Monday. Obama will propose that the SEC be given $1.8 billion and the CFTC $330 million in the budget, economic adviser Jeffrey Zients said in a blog post on the White House website. "Last year the Administration fought hard to keep Congressional Republicans from using must-pass budget legislation to roll back Wall Street Reform," he wrote, referring to fiscal 2016.
- Trump versus Jeb in New Hampshire on day before crucial primary
By Steve Holland and Amanda Becker MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) - White House hopefuls Donald Trump and Jeb Bush opened political hostilities on Monday as Republican and Democratic candidates stormed across New Hampshire in a final flurry of events before the state's crucial first-in-the-nation primary. The stage was set for the vote on Tuesday, with New York billionaire Trump enjoying a big lead in opinion polls of the state's Republican voters and a host of rivals jockeying to emerge as his chief challenger for the Republican presidential nomination in the Nov. 8 election. In the race for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont sought to hang on for a much-needed victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a week after a razor-thin loss to her in the Iowa caucuses.
- Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg says eyeing 2016 run for president: FT
(Reuters) - Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, said he is considering running for U.S. president in 2016, the Financial Times reported on Monday. The 73-year-old founder of the eponymous financial information group was critical of the quality of debate in the presidential contest and said he was "looking at all the options" when asked whether he was considering a run, the newspaper said. "I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," Bloomberg told the Financial Times in an interview, adding that the U.S. public deserved "a lot better." Bloomberg has told aides to draw up plans for an independent campaign for the U.S. presidency, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Jan. 23, confirming a report in the New York Times.
- Clinton campaign denies staffing changes in works
WASHINGTON/MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign chair denied a Monday report that she is considering staff changes after the New Hampshire nominating contest on Tuesday. Hillary stands behind her team, period," Chairman John Podesta tweeted. Podesta was responding to a Politico report that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had planned to reassess staffing and strategy after the first four primaries but are becoming increasingly critical of their aides and demanded the evaluation sooner.
- Family of murdered ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller speaks out
The family of American hostage Kayla Mueller, murdered by ISIS a year ago, suggests they are preparing to go public with “the heartbreaking story” of their attempts to ransom her from the Islamic State.
- ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli pleads the Fifth at hearing, dodges questions Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli ("Pharma Bro") invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify during a congressional hearing Thursday morning.
- Georgia mayor pulled over driving a police cruiser, charged with impersonating officer The mayor of a small town in Georgia has been charged with impersonating an officer after he was pulled over while driving a marked police cruiser, officials said Tuesday.
- Conspiracy theories flourish in Flint’s toxic water When Jenay Young received a free Brita water filter earlier this month from the state government she immediately called the company’s customer service line to ask if it filtered out lead. (It does, but Young still has her doubts.)
- Meet Wantwaz Davis, the ex-con who tried to save Flint After spending nearly 20 years in prison, Flint, Mich., resident Wantwaz Davis emerged to become a member of the City Council — and one of the earliest and most vocal critics of the city’s use of contaminated water from the Flint River.
- Suspected Bomb Hand-Off Caught on Camera Before Ill-Fated Flight
Authorities in Somalia have released video footage from inside Mogadishu’s airport that they say shows a laptop packed with explosives being handed to a passenger before the mid-air explosion that forced a Daallo Airlines flight to make an emergency landing last week. In the video, reportedly taken by surveillance cameras after security checks, two men can be seen walking together when one of the men hands a laptop case to a third man -- the suspected plane bomber, according to The Associated Press. The suspected bomber was sucked out of the airplane after the mid-air explosion left a relatively small hole in the plane, authorities said.
- Donald Trump Wants to Authorize 'Something Beyond Waterboarding'
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said the United States needs to authorize "something beyond waterboarding" in order to better fight terror groups. Trump justified the use of waterboarding and other unnamed advanced interrogation techniques because terror groups use greater measures to inflict fear and harm. "Do we win by being more like them?" asked Stephanopoulos.
- Hillary Clinton Says She Has 'Never, Ever' Let a Donor Influence Her Vote
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defended her voting record Sunday in an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," saying she has never been influenced to vote one way or another by a donor. “I have never, ever been influenced in a view or a vote by anyone who has given me any kind of funding,” she said.
- The Latest: Clinton vows to 'make a difference' every day
- Legislatures consider special protections for gun industry
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A terse letter from Andrew Clyde's credit card-processing company explained it was discontinuing his corporate account because his Georgia firearms business "no longer met our underwriting guidelines." In a panic, Clyde called three other companies, which denied him, too.
- Lynch: No outside influence on FBI probe into Clinton emails WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Loretta Lynch is reaffirming that the FBI's probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state is free of outside political influence.
- State Board of Canvassers approves petition to recall Snyder LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The State Board of Canvassers on Monday unanimously approved a petition to recall Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder that doesn't mention the lead contamination of Flint water, but rejected several other proposals that cite the water crisis in seeking his removal from office.
- UN agency proposes greenhouse gas emissions rules for planes
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.N. panel on Monday proposed long-sought greenhouse gas emissions standards for airliners and cargo planes, drawing praise from the White House and criticism from environmentalists who said they would be too weak to actually slow global warming.
- Residents of minority communities decry dumping of toxic coal ash The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights evoked the Michigan city's water crisis Friday in taking testimony on toxic coal ash.
- Washington state moves to protect mobile-home buyers Investigation by Center for Public Integrity, The Seattle Times, BuzzFeed News prompts probe of mobile home industry in Washington state.
- Civil Rights Commission to hold hearing on environmental justice Residents of polluted communities, advocates and industry officials are to testify Friday before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
- Ready to return? Boko Haram displaced reluctant to go home
- Obama to unveil election-tinged budget
Barack Obama unveils the last budget of his presidency Tuesday, a multitrillion-dollar plan that is dead-on-arrival in Congress but could shape the 2016 White House race. Legislatively, the future looks bleak for Obama's 2017 fiscal year plan, which covers spending on everything from cybersecurity to cancer research. Republicans who control Congress have already vowed to ignore it and draft their own version.
- New Hampshire prepares for crucial US vote
New Hampshire heads to the polls Tuesday in the crucial first US presidential primary with Donald Trump chasing victory and Hillary Clinton looking to narrow the gap with Bernie Sanders. The small northeastern state, home to just 1.3 million, is the battleground that could shake out a crowded Republican field of candidates, pitting Trump and arch-conservative Senator Ted Cruz against more establishment candidates led by Senator Marco Rubio.
- Holdout creditor says Argentina 'bought' support
One of Argentina's holdout creditors has accused Buenos Aires of buying support from another creditor as the country tries to settle its long debt battle. The new government offered $6.5 billion on Friday to settle the dispute and US court case that have roiled global sovereign debt markets while harming Argentina's ability to access international capital to fund its economy. The holdouts, whose decade-long court battle against Buenos Aires was led by two New York hedge funds, are a minority class of creditors that refused to go along with the restructuring of the country's debt after it defaulted on about $100 billion in 2001.
- Mexico replaces state oil chief amid sinking prices
Mexico's president replaced the head of troubled state energy giant Pemex on Monday amid a steep fall in world oil prices that have caused the company to lose millions. Emilio Lozoya, who has led Pemex since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, was succeeded by Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya, director of the Mexican Social Security Institute.
- UK warns EU exit could mean migrant camps on south coast
A British EU exit could mean thousands of migrants landing on Britain's shores "overnight", the government said, stepping up the rhetoric in the campaign ahead of a referendum on membership. Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said a "Brexit" could undermine a Franco-British bilateral agreement that allows Britain to carry out border checks on French soil, stopping many migrants. "Should Britain leave the EU there's no guarantee those controls would remain in place," Cameron's spokesman told reporters at a daily briefing.
- California grants driver's licenses to 605,000 undocumented
Some 605,000 undocumented immigrants who live in California were granted driver's licenses in 2015, the first year they have been able to enjoy that benefit, officials said Monday. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) expects a total of some 1.4 million people will get their license under the law by late 2017. Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the law in October 2013 to give a legal document to the 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California alone -- most from Latin America and particularly neighboring Mexico.
- Obama signs Africa electricity initiative into law
President Barack Obama signed into law Monday a measure aimed at expanding electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa, a measure supporters say will save lives and accelerate growth on the continent. The Electrify Africa Act, which unanimously passed the House of Representatives and Senate, leverages partnerships with the private sector in order to bring first-time electricity access to some 50 million people in underserved parts of Africa. Virtually no new US federal funds are allocated for the project, which instead will use a system of loan guarantees to add 20,000 megawatts of electricity to the continent's grid by 2020.
- Santos says referendum will be held on peace deal regardless of FARC
President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday said a referendum would be held on a possible peace deal with Marxist FARC fighters, whether the rebels want a vote or not. The FARC and the government have said they aim to sign a peace deal by March 23. "Whatever gets signed in Havana, I will submit to a referendum vote, whether the FARC likes it or not," Santos said in a Twitter post.
- Israeli parliament debates controversial NGO funding law
Israel's parliament began debating late Monday a controversial bill that would compel NGOs that receive most of their funding from foreign governments to declare this in all of their official reports. The text does not specifically refer to leftist organisations, but they are the groups it would impact as right-wing NGOs supporting Israel's occupation of the West Bank tend instead to rely on private donations, particularly from the United States. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who proposed the law, argues it will boost transparency as the government seeks to fight foreign interference and attempts to delegitimise the state of Israel.
- The 2016 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet
- French lower house votes to enshrine state of emergency in constitution
The lower house of the French parliament voted Monday in favour of enshrining in the constitution the process of declaring a state of national emergency, one of a series of controversial amendments the government proposed after November's Paris attacks. The overwhelming vote in favour is the first in a series of steps before the constitution is finally revised. President Francois Hollande imposed a state of emergency in the wake of the jihadist attacks that killed 130 people in the capital on November 13, giving police and security forces sweeping powers to raid houses and hold people under house arrest without judicial oversight.
- Ex-NY mayor Bloomberg considering presidential bid
Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and billionaire media owner, has stated for the first time that he is considering launching a White House bid this year. The move would thoroughly upend a presidential race that has already kicked into high gear, as Republicans and Democrats battle it out for prominence in Tuesday's crucial New Hampshire primary. Bloomberg, who mulled running in previous elections and has criticized the quality of debate in the 2016 race, told the Financial Times he was "looking at all options" when asked whether he was considering throwing his hat in the ring.
- US welcomes Saudi troop offer for Syria: FM
The United States welcomes a Saudi offer to deploy special forces to support a coalition ground operation against the Islamic State group inside Syria, the kingdom's foreign minister said Monday. Speaking after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said any operation would be US-led but that Saudi Arabia would play a leading role. "The United States government was very supportive and very positive about the kingdom's readiness to provide special forces to the operation in Syria, should the international coalition make a decision to do so," he told reporters.
- Banking shares plummet on economic slowdown fears
Shares of large banks and other financial stocks were pummelled on Wall Street Monday as fears of a US economic slowdown heightened worries over deteriorating credit quality. US banks were broadly lower, but the hardest-hit included Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, all down 6.0 percent or more in afternoon trade. A slowing economy translates into higher loan defaults, weaker credit quality and lower interest rates, all of which are bad for bank profits, said Jim Sinegal, an analyst of banks and payment companies at Morningstar.
- At least four Russian servicemen killed in helicopter crash
At least four Russian servicemen were killed when a military helicopter crashed in the west of the country late Monday, the defence ministry said. "According to a search and rescue group that arrived on the scene of the emergency landing of an Mi-8 helicopter, three pilots and one technical instructor were killed," the defence ministry told Russian news agencies. Contact with the crew was lost just after 1620 GMT, the defence ministry said, before the helicopter made an emergency landing outside the town of Ostrov, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Russia's border with EU member Latvia.
- Libyan warplane crashes after attacking IS jihadists
A warplane operated by forces loyal to Libya's recognised government crashed Monday near the eastern city of Derna after attacking Islamic State group positions, a military official said. Spokesman Nasser el-Hassi told AFP the pilot of the MiG-23, Younes al-Dilani, "survived the crash". Hassi refused to reveal the cause but LANA news agency, which is close to the recognised government, attributed it to "technical problems".
- Rebel attack ups tension in Colombia peace drive
Colombia vowed Monday to step up the fight against the country's second-biggest rebel group, despite claims it was ready to join in a peace drive to end decades of conflict. President Juan Manuel Santos spoke after a meeting of security officials prompted by an attack early Monday on a military brigade, blamed on the leftist ELN, or National Liberation Army. The attack raised tension amid efforts to include the ELN in peace efforts alongside the FARC, Colombia's biggest rebel force, aimed at ending half a century of conflict in the South American country.
- Lucky few cross Turkey's border as Syrians flee offensive
While tens of thousands of people fleeing the fierce fighting of a Russian-backed regime offensive in Syria huddled in makeshift camps and hoped to get across the border into Turkey, just a handful were lucky enough to make the crossing. One of them was 15-year-old Mohammad Rahma, who lost his eyesight in a Russian air strike about a month ago. An estimated 30,000 Syrians who fled the offensive on opposition strongholds in northern Aleppo province have been massing for days around the Bab al-Salama border gate, across from Turkey's Oncupinar crossing.
- Sudan army urges civilians to return to clashes-hit Darfur area
Sudan's military on Monday called on civilians displaced by two weeks of fighting in Darfur's Jebel Marra to return to their homes, claiming to have captured most of the area. The rebels strongly denied the claim and urged the international community to intervene to protect civilians. Clashes flared between insurgents and troops in Jebel Marra, a stronghold of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdulwahid Nur (SLA-AW), on January 15 and tens of thousands of civilians are thought to have fled the fighting.