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- Obama pokes fun at political friends and foes at White House dinner
By Tanya Basu WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At the gathering he jokingly called "a night when Washington celebrates itself," U.S. President Barack Obama took light-hearted aim on Saturday at a range of political friends and foes, including the people running to succeed him. Obama's comedy routine at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner included a sly dig at Hillary Clinton, the current front-runner to be the Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election. Noting that some Americans are living in a time of uncertainty, Obama said, "For example, I have one friend just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and she's now living out of a van in Iowa." Clinton, who as a former secretary of state, former senator and former first lady is one of America's best known figures, traveled around in a van this month in a deliberately low-key trip to the state that holds an early contest in the election primary season.
- Christie's wife quits Wall Street job amid speculation he will seek White House
(Reuters) - Mary Pat Christie, the wife of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, resigned from her Wall Street job, his spokesman confirmed, as her husband contemplates a run for the White House in 2016. Her resignation from New York-based Angelo Gordon & Co, which manages hedge funds and alternative investments, is perhaps the clearest sign yet that Christie is likely to officially announce that he will be a Republican 2016 presidential candidate. "Mrs. Christie has decided to take a hiatus from her work in the finance world to spend more time with her family and young children," said Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the governor, in an emailed statement. Citing anonymous sources, Fox Business Network reported on Friday that earlier this week, Mary Pat Christie told officials at Angelo Gordon, where she was a managing director, that she would resign as her husband neared a campaign announcement, FOX Business Network reported.
- In Iowa for Faith & Freedom, Republican contenders face tricky balance
When the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition plays host to nine Republican White House hopefuls this weekend, the conservative Christian group will simply be pursuing its stated mission to "take back our state and country." But the Republican contenders who will speak at the group's annual Spring Kick-Off face a more delicate balance: How to address pressure from the Christian group to toe the conservative line on a number of social issues such as abortion and gay marriage without alienating members of the broader party who are more focused on the economy or foreign policy. Iowa holds the country's first nominating contests with its caucuses, giving the small, Midwestern state an outsized role in the presidential scrum. “Certainly Christian conservatives will be up to half of all the likely caucus goers,” said Doug Gross, who chaired Mitt Romney’s 2008 Iowa campaign.
- Senate confirms Loretta Lynch as attorney general
By Lindsay Dunsmuir and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Loretta Lynch won Senate approval as U.S. attorney general on Thursday, becoming the first black woman to occupy the post at a time when deadly altercations between white police and unarmed black men are making headlines. The Senate confirmed Lynch by a vote of 56-43 to end a five-month partisan deadlock over her nomination by President Barack Obama. Obama said Lynch, the 55-year-old U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, New York, had credibility with both law enforcement and the communities they police. Taking over the Justice Department from Attorney General Eric Holder, Lynch also will face early tests on financial cases alleging some of the world's largest banks helped clients evade U.S. taxes and manipulated currency markets.
- GOP presidential hopefuls say no thanks to White House Correspondents’ Dinner The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is one of the hottest tickets in the political world — unless you’re a Republican hoping to win your party’s presidential nomination and the president in office is a Democrat whose record you’re setting out to run against.
- Ferguson police investigation was botched from the start, Michael Brown’s family alleges in lawsuit Former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson destroyed potentially crucial evidence shortly after fatally shooting Michael Brown, the slain teen’s family alleges in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
- Lincoln Chafee’s 2016 run might matter more than you think Lincoln Chafee says that when he first got the idea to run for president, he went to see Michael Bloomberg, who, like Chafee, has belonged to both parties and to neither. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, said he had concluded that you needed to run from inside a party in order to mount a credible White House campaign. (I don’t think he’s right, especially if you’re like the 10th-richest man in America, but that’s a conversation for another time.)
- Hillary campaign swats at Iran charge in ‘Clinton Cash’ With an exasperated swipe at “absurd right-wing conspiracy theories,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Wednesday rejected the allegation in a new book that she watered down Iran sanctions to please a corporation that paid Bill Clinton a fortune in speaking fees.
- Tsarnaev middle finger photo formally entered into evidence
- Bowe Bergdahl Charged With Desertion, Could Face Life
American soldier and former Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion over his disappearance from an Afghan outpost in 2009 and could face life in confinement, the Army announced today. As part of the deal, the Taliban five were relocated to Qatar. After Bergdahl's dramatic return to the U.S., the Army launched an investigation into whether the soldier willfully left his post in Afghanistan before he was taken by the Taliban in 2009, as some Afghan war veterans alleged.
- Lawmakers to Question Top Officials about Controversial Visa Program for Wealthy Foreigners
Republicans in Congress voiced strong objections Tuesday in response to a scathing Homeland Security investigation that found a senior official appeared to give special treatment to politically-connected applicants when he ran a little-known federal program that offers visas to those who invest $500,000 in a job-creating business. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the committee chairman, said he viewed the findings of the Homeland Security Inspector General “extremely concerning” and said he will hold hearings Thursday to determine if further investigation is needed. The Inspector General’s investigation focused on the leadership of Alejandro Mayorkas, who served as director of the immigration program known as EB-5, an obscure but increasingly popular method for obtaining highly-sought-after American Green Cards. In late 2013, Mayorkas was promoted by President Obama to Deputy Secretary of the department over objections from Republicans who had already begun to hear rumblings of problems with his handling of the immigration program.
- Bowe Bergdahl Charged With Desertion, Lawyer Says
- Iowans hear from GOP field on social issues
- Players from politics, Hollywood mix it up at 'Nerd Prom'
- Winding up, Obama tosses zingers at press, political foes
- GOP 2016 hopefuls talk social issues in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential hopefuls emphasized their staunch opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights Saturday before a crowd of social conservatives who hold significant sway in the state's leadoff presidential caucuses.
- The Latest on GOP's 2016 hopefuls: Iowans see a bumper crop
- Analysis: Failure of Comcast-Time Warner deal may spark new wave of mergers Death of $45 billion deal for Comcast to buy Time Warner likely to spark new wave of mergers.
- Virginia's new ethics legislation would close some loopholes, skip others Latest Virginia bill would close some gaps, leave others wide open
- Biden cites progress on campus sexual assault, but says there's 'so much farther to go' But Biden says there's 'farther' to go
- Nepal hospitals overflowing, rural towns cut off: aid groups
International aid groups and governments intensified efforts to get rescuers and supplies into earthquake-hit Nepal on Sunday, but severed communications and landslides in the Himalayan nation posed formidable challenges to the relief effort. As the death toll surpassed 2,200, the US together with several European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in rural areas cut off by blocked roads and patchy phone networks. "We know that in many areas -- both rural and in some of the larger towns -- have suffered landslides and roads are cut off," said Mike Bruce, regional communications manager for Plan International aid organisation. "We witnessed terrible scenes of destruction -- hospitals were evacuated with patients being treated on the ground outside, homes and buildings demolished and some roads cracked wide open," said Eleanor Trinchera, Caritas Australia programme coordinator for Nepal, who was an hour outside the capital when the quake struck.
- Britain faces more austerity medicine, whoever wins
In the cacophony of slogans ahead of Britain's general election on May 7 one thing is for sure -- the country faces more austerity whichever party wins. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron positions himself as a saviour who rescued the debt-ridden economy he inherited when coming to power in 2010. With economic growth picking up to 2.8 percent in 2014 and the unemployment rate falling to 5.6 percent, his Labour rival Ed Miliband has an uphill task. Labour point out the average wage of a British worker has fallen by Â£1,600 ($2,429, 2,234 euros) a year since Cameron took office -- and that many new jobs being created are badly paid and offer little security.
- Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where Indonesia puts condemned prisoners to death, and Jakarta says the executions could be as early as Tuesday, although no official date has been set. Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo told Indonesian news channel MetroTV that preparations for the executions were "100 percent" complete.
- Portugal coalition partners to field joint list in upcoming polls
Leaders of the two parties in Portugal's centre-right coalition government on Saturday announced they would field a single list of candidates to contest this year's parliamentary elections. "This alliance is strong because it can already show the Portuguese how much work has been done," Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, head of the Social Democrats (PSD), said at a press conference in Lisbon. Without taking the new alliance into account, the most recent opinion poll put the opposition Socialists in first place with 38.1 percent of the votes, compared to 25.2 percent for the PSD and 8.1 percent for the CDS.
- Burundi president re-election bid lost opportunity: US
"We regret this significant missed opportunity, but the hard work of building democratic practices and institutions must continue," acting State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, accusing the ruling party of disregarding the term-limit provisions of the Arusha Accords. Burundi only emerged from civil war in 2006 and there are fears that Nkurunziza's effort to cling to power could push the nation back into violence.
- US sending disaster response team to Nepal: official
The United States is sending a disaster response team to earthquake-hit Nepal and has authorized an initial $1 million to address immediate needs. A White House official said Saturday that President Barack Obama was briefed on the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake believed to have killed more than 1,200 people in Nepal and dozens more in neighboring China and India. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support. "To the people in Nepal and the region affected by this tragedy we send our heartfelt sympathies," he said.
- France opens probe into forced labour allegations in Qatar
French prosecutors said Saturday they had opened a preliminary probe into a lobby group's claims that construction giant Vinci is using forced labour on building projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The investigation, which began about a fortnight ago, aims to verify allegations -- denied by the French construction group -- that have been made by the non-governmental group Sherpa, prosecutor Catherine Denis told AFP. A wider probe involving investigations in Qatar could be subsequently opened if found warranted, she added. Sherpa has filed a claim in a French court against Vinci and its Qatari subsidiary QDVC for "forced labour", "servitude" and "concealment".
- Thousands remember Anzac heroism on Gallipoli centenary
Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders on Saturday thronged the beaches of Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula to remember the heroism and sacrifice of their forefathers in the World War I campaign against the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago. Troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) launched their first amphibious assaults on the peninsula in what is now western Turkey on April 25, 1915, splashing through the waters into a rain of Ottoman gunfire.
- Rugby Union - Fijian flyer Nadolo guides Crusaders home over Blues
- A clinical Canterbury Crusaders kept the Super 15 play-offs in sight and left the Auckland Blues with little at stake for the rest of the season with a 29-15 victory in Christchurch. Giant Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo was a central figure in the bonus point win, creating the space and firing the last pass for three of the Crusaders four tries. All Blacks Richie McCaw and Ryan Crotty also made considerable contributions as the Crusaders produced a much improved effort after losing their last two games, both of them at home.
- Armenia marks emotional centenary of Ottoman massacres
The leaders of France and Russia joined ceremonies marking the centenary of the massacre of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces, a hugely emotional event that remains a diplomatic minefield. During a commemoration at a hilltop memorial in the Armenian capital Yerevan, French President Francois Hollande urged modern day Turkey to recognise the massacre as genocide, saying he bowed in memory of the victims. "Important words have already been said in Turkey, but others are still expected, so that shared grief can become shared destiny," Hollande told an audience that also included the leaders of Cyprus and Serbia and delegates from some 60 countries. President Vladimir Putin said Russia stood shoulder to shoulder with ex-Soviet Armenia, one of Moscow's closest allies.
- Man who shot Reagan 'ready' for life outside hospital: psychiatrist
Staff treating the man who shot US president Ronald Reagan testified Friday that he was "ready" for life outside the mental hospital and is so extensively trailed by the Secret Service that the government can know where he is anytime. John Hinckley, 59, who attempted to kill Reagan in 1981, was committed to St Elizabeth's mental hospital in the US capital but already spends around half the month at his mother's house in southeast Virginia. On March 30, 1981, Hinckley shot Reagan, his press aide Jim Brady and two others outside a Washington hotel in an effort to impress Hollywood actress Jodie Foster with whom he said he was obsessed. "This is not a hearing for him to be out without conditions," Hinckley's lawyer Michelle Tupper Butler told AFP.
- Chill in the air as Arctic nations meet
Arctic nations warned Friday of the dangers facing the environment and the peoples of the remote region, as it now also becomes a new flashpoint in global tensions with Russia. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as everywhere else on the globe and US officials last month said the Arctic sea ice had reached its lowest winter point since satellite observations began in the late 1970s. "One of the biggest challenges everybody has talked about today is climate change. The numbers are alarming -- and that's putting it mildly," US Secretary of State John Kerry told ministers as the United States took over from Canada as the chairman of the Arctic Council.
- Machine gun 'fun' with ex-SEAL from Bin Laden raid
A right-wing political group has invited donors for some "machine gun fun" at a Wyoming shooting range with former Navy SEAL Rob O'Neill, who has claimed credit for killing Osama Bin Laden. The conservative organization ForAmerica is offering a chance to spend a weekend with O'Neill and shoot guns with the retired commando -- for a fee of $50,000, according to the Washington Post. "Our event will consist of clay, pistol and 'machine gun fun' with shooting competitions with Rob O'Neill," said an invitation to donors, posted by the newspaper. Participants will stay at the Amangani Resort Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which the invitation described as offering "picturesque views" of Grand Teton National Park and the Snake River.
- Kerry urges Yemen rebels and their allies to enter talks
US Secretary of State John Kerry called Friday on Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen and those who have "influence over them" to come to the negotiating table and end the unrest in the Gulf nation. The United Nations had already appointed a facilitator and both sides appeared ready to discuss a location for peace talks, Kerry said. Innocent civilians were being caught up in the violence in Yemen and it was "a top priority to try to minimize it," he added.
- Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank
Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank announced Friday it was seeking to sell its Postbank subsidiary as part of a revamp to improve profitability. "The bank... will deconsolidate Postbank," a statement said, adding that it was aiming "to achieve greater efficiency and a more robust control environment", but gave no further details. The sale of Postbank -- which Deutsche Bank acquired a few years ago -- is part of a new strategy to be unveiled Monday as the bank struggles to confront the challenges of increased financial sector regulation and the low interest rate environment. Postbank, a former state-owned unit of the German postal group, has around 14 million customers and posted a net profit of 278 million euros ($302 million) last year.
- US aircraft carrier heading away from Yemen: officials
A US aircraft carrier and a guided-missile cruiser are leaving the waters off Yemen and heading back to the Gulf after an Iranian naval convoy also turned back from the area, officials said Friday. The carrier and the cruiser, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Normandy, had deployed to the region this week amid signs of a possible showdown with the Iranian flotilla. Washington suspected the convoy of carrying weapons destined for Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen. Seven other American combat ships would remain in the Gulf of Aden and waters in the vicinity of Yemen, officials said.
- Russia failing to fully implement Ukraine ceasefire: US
Iqaluit (Canada) (AFP) - Russia is failing to fully implement a ceasefire deal agreed in eastern Ukraine despite its hopes of seeing European sanctions eased, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.
- Obama rallies intelligence staff after botched strike
A day after revealing that the United States killed two Western hostages in a botched operation against Al-Qaeda, a mournful President Barack Obama assembled intelligence staff to pay tribute to their work and patriotism. "There may be those outside who question or challenge what we do," a resolute Obama told officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as he addressed the deaths of 73-year-old American Warren Weinstein and 39-year-old Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. Obama has appeared publicly to take "full responsibility" for the two men's deaths, which officials suggested was a result of a drone strike on an Al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan in January. "It's hard," Obama admitted.
- Leaders pay tribute to Gallipoli fallen on centenary
Turkey and the former World War I Commonwealth foes of the Ottoman Empire on Friday joined together to honour the tens of thousands killed at the Battle of Gallipoli 100 years ago in one of the most futile yet emblematic campaigns of the conflict. The ceremonies were being held the same day as centenary commemorations for the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire with several world leaders opting to attend the events in Yerevan instead as history cast a dark shadow. The Battle of Gallipoli ended with up to half a million casualties and achieved little. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a ceremony at the memorial for Ottoman troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula that the world needed a message of peace "more than ever" in the 21st century.
- Hungary to seek public's views on immigration
Hungary's government said Friday it will seek the public's views on immigration, including on whether asylum-seekers should be made to work, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban called existing EU rules "stupid". "People will be asked (by questionnaire) whether they agree that illegal border-crossers should be taken into custody, or whether they should be deported immediately," government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said. Around eight million people in 10-million-strong Hungary, which receives the second-highest number of asylum applicants by size of population in the EU, will be sent the "public consultation" in May. Since 2013, the central European country -- part of Europe's visa-free Schengen zone -- has seen a sharp rise in numbers of asylum-seekers, most arriving at its southern border with non-EU member Serbia.