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- U.S. House okays bipartisan bill to fix Medicare doctor payments
By Susan Cornwell and Caroline Humer WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill to permanently repair the formula for reimbursing Medicare physicians, marking a rare bipartisan achievement and sending the issue next to the Senate. The measure drafted and driven forward by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi would fix a long-standing problem with how Medicare pays doctors. The Senate may not act until they return from a two-week recess that will start this weekend. Some Senate Democrats still had concerns about the bill, but support for it was widening.
- Wisconsin's Walker denies changing stance on illegal immigrants Likely 2016 Republican U.S. presidential hopeful Scott Walker's stance on illegal immigrants remains unchanged, his spokeswoman said on Thursday, disputing a report that he favored letting them stay in the country and eventually become eligible for citizenship. Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswomen for the Wisconsin governor, labeled as "erroneous" a Wall Street Journal report detailing what the newspaper called Walker's shift in stance on the matter. "Governor Walker has been very clear that he does not support amnesty and believes that border security must be established and the rule of law must be followed," Kukowski said in an emailed statement. "His position has not changed, he does not support citizenship for illegal immigrants, and this story line is false," Kukowski added.
- Japan PM Abe to address joint session of U.S. Congress
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will address a joint meeting of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on April 29, becoming the first Japanese leader to do so. Abe will spend eight days on a state visit expected to focus on joint responses to growing Chinese assertiveness in Asia, including his moves to loosen restraints on Japan's pacifist postwar constitution. In announcing the invitation to the Japanese leader, U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner said Abe's speech would be an opportunity for Americans to hear from a close ally about ways to expand cooperation on economic and security priorities. Trade is an important component of President Barack Obama's diplomatic and security "pivot" to Asia.
- Indiana governor signs religious freedom bill that could affect gays Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill that could allow businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds, in a move that prompted protests from some business leaders. Supporters of the bill, which was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature, say it will keep the government from forcing business owners to act in ways contrary to strongly held religious beliefs. Opponents say it is discriminatory and broader in scope than other state religious freedom laws. “The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action," Pence said in a statement after signing the bill.
- Icelandic whaling: Conservationists split over efficacy of Obama’s sanctions, E.U. protest The Icelandic Hvalur whaling company’s killing of endangered fin whales has been denounced by the United States and the European Union. Is it time for greater action?
- DNC unveils clip reel tying Jeb Bush to brother’s policies
The Democratic National Committee put together a clip reel of Jeb Bush backing up his older brother’s policies in office — hinting at a potential line of attack should he become the GOP’s presidential nominee.
- Live updates: Day 13 at the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev This is day 13 of testimony in admitted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s federal death penalty trial in Boston. Prosecutors are expected to continue with additional testimony about evidence found in Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
- Ted Cruz looks to revive the evangelicalism of the past
It’s actually an open question whether the majority of evangelicals agree with Cruz that America should be, or can be, what it once was — a nation with a dominantly Protestant culture and overwhelmingly Christian religious orientation.
- Most Boston residents oppose death penalty for Marathon bomber Tsarnaev: poll
- 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
- Capitol Hill Buzz: Senators vote on amendments, score points WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is a place where hidebound tradition mixes with raw politics, sometimes with a touch of the absurd. Then there's the "vote-a-rama."
- Watchdog report faults DEA handling of sex party allegations WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal watchdog on Thursday faulted the Drug Enforcement Administration over allegations that agents attended sex parties with prostitutes on government-leased property while stationed overseas.
- AP Exclusive: Special ops troops using flawed intel software
WASHINGTON (AP) — Special operations troops heading to war zones are asking for commercial intelligence analysis software they say will help their missions. But their requests are languishing, and they are being ordered to use a flawed, in-house system preferred by the Pentagon, according to government records and interviews.
- Gov. Scott Walker immigration position under fresh scrutiny WASHINGTON (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's position on immigration is facing new scrutiny.
- Indiana religious objections bill signed as dispute swirls
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence vigorously defended the state religious objections bill that he signed into law Thursday as businesses and organizations including the NCAA pressed concerns that it could open the door to legalizing discrimination against gay people.
- The political kingmaker nobody knows The founder of 5-hour Energy has become one of the biggest donors to state politics as his product comes under scrutiny.
- Secretive group destroys candidates' chances, leaves few fingerprints A secretive nonprofit uses attack ads to knock out state candidates in small-dollar races around the country.
- Lawmakers boost war spending as the wars wind down A Pentagon budget account for the wars becomes an ever-larger slush fund
- US, Cuba to broach human rights Tuesday
Cuba said it will hold talks Tuesday with the United States on human rights, one of the most delicate issues pending in their historic rapprochement, insisting that both sides' records should be scrutinized. Washington and Havana have held three rounds of talks since they announced on December 17 that they would resume relations after more than five decades of enmity, but so far they have not broached the sensitive topic of human rights. "This demonstrates Cuba's readiness to address any issue despite our differences," he told journalists.
- Ex-Guantanamo inmates 'destroyed': Mujica
Six former Guantanamo inmates who were resettled in Uruguay last year have been "destroyed" and need help from the United States because it is to blame, former president Jose Mujica said Thursday. Mujica, who left office on March 1, was the architect of the plan to grant refugee status to the former detainees -- four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian -- who had been cleared for release from the US military prison but could not be sent to their home countries. Since landing in Uruguay on December 6, the men have been receiving a small monthly allowance, taking Spanish classes, and living in hotel rooms and a house provided by a local labor union. "The people at Guantanamo have been destroyed," he said in an interview with Canal 10 TV.
- Ukraine's Russia debt threatens IMF rescue
A default by Ukraine on $3 billion in debt owed to Russia this year could threaten the International Monetary Fund's lifeline to the embattled country, an IMF spokesman said Thursday. The Ukrainian government has begun negotiations with creditors for $15 billion in debt relief, part of a $40 billion, four-year financial rescue envisioned by the IMF. The Fund has approved a $17.5 billion loan to Ukraine as part of the package in exchange for the government's successful implementation of economic, budget and monetary reforms. Kiev's debt includes $3 billion lent by Russia in 2010 to the previous Moscow-backed government.
- Morocco joins Saudi coalition in Yemen: ministry
Morocco has joined the Saudi-led military coalition that has intervened to support Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in his fight against Iran-backed Shiite rebels, the foreign ministry said Thursday. Rabat has "put at the disposition" of the coalition Moroccan warplanes already based in the United Arab Emirates, from which they have been participating in US-led strikes against the Islamic State group, a statement said. Morocco had "decided to provide all forms of support to the coalition to sustain legitimacy in Yemen through the political, intelligence, logistical and military dimensions," the statement added. The ministry pointed out that Morocco has a "multidimensional strategic partnership" with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups the six Gulf monarchies, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
- White House concerned about Iranian weapons in Yemen
The White House on Thursday expressed concern about Iran's alleged role in stoking violence in Yemen, the latest flashpoint in tensions between Middle East powers. Amid a Saudi-led military offensive to defeat pro-Iran rebels that control much of Yemen, a National Security Council official told AFP that Tehran's actions were destabilising and threatening Yemen's government. "We have concerns about Iranian activities in Yemen and reports of Iranian flow of arms into Yemen," Alistair Baskey said. Huthi Shiite rebels have taken control of several cities and are assaulting the port of Aden, where President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi had been based before fleeing to Riyadh.
- Air strikes trigger final push on Iraq's Tikrit
Iraqi government forces revived a stalled ground operation to retake Tikrit Thursday following US-led air strikes that paved the way but left the anti-jihadist camp deeply divided. Wary of being seen as cosying up to Iran's proxies, Washington conditioned its intervention on an enhanced role for regular government forces in the fight against the Islamic State group. The Tehran-backed paramilitary groups that had done the heavy lifting in the Tikrit operation so far threatened to pull out of it completely, accusing the US of "hijacking victory". The operation to retake Tikrit was launched on March 2 but had failed to dislodge a relatively small number of IS fighters who have hemmed themselves in with thousands of bombs for a last stand in the city centre.
- UN seeks settlement freeze from new Israeli government
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government must take steps to freeze Jewish settlements that are threatening to "kill the very possibility of reaching peace," the UN's Middle East envoy said Thursday. In his final report to the Security Council as Middle East coordinator, Robert Serry said "I frankly do not know if it is already too late" to revive peace talks aimed at the establishment of a Palestinian state. "The minimum conditions of trust cannot be restored without the new Israeli government taking credible steps to freeze settlement activity," the Dutch diplomat told the 15-member council. The appeal from the top UN envoy came as Netanyahu began talks on forming a new government after vowing in a campaign speech that he would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state under his watch.
- Rouhani writes to Obama as Iran talks near deadline
Iran's president Thursday appealed to global leaders including Barack Obama as negotiators raced against the clock to agree the outlines of a deal that puts an Iranian nuclear bomb out of reach. Hassan Rouhani wrote to the American president, US officials confirmed, as well as to the leaders of the five other powers heading efforts to resolve the 12-year standoff over Iran's nuclear programme. "We are acting in the national and international interest and we should not lose this exceptional opportunity," Hassan Rouhani told British Prime Minister David Cameron by phone, the presidency said. "Hope was expressed for success at the new round of talks in Lausanne," the Kremlin said after Rouhani spoke with President Vladimir Putin, while noting with "satisfaction the progress" made.
- Top Arab Israeli MP begins 4-day march for Bedouins
Wadi al-Naam (Israel) (AFP) - Israel's top Arab MP began a four-day walk to Jerusalem on Thursday in a show of support for the impoverished Bedouin community and to put a spotlight on the "human misery" they face. Ayman Odeh, who was elected in last week's Israeli polls and heads the Arab parliamentary bloc, set off on a 100-kilometre (60-mile) walk from the southern Negev -- where he has long campaigned for the rights of Bedouin Arabs. Odeh leads the Joint List, an alliance of Israel's main Arab parties which won 13 of parliament's 120 seats, becoming the third largest grouping in the Knesset. As part of the opposition, it has vowed to fight for the rights of Israel's Arab minority which accounts for more than a fifth of the population and to push for a resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.
- US anti-drug agents went to cartel-funded 'sex parties': govt report
US Drug Enforcement Administration agents have admitted attending orgies with prostitutes they should have known were hired by a drug cartel, the Justice Department revealed Thursday. According to a broad report commissioned into the behavior of federal agents, seven of 10 officers who were accused of taking part in the parties confessed and were disciplined. The 138-page Justice Department report does not say where the parties took place, but the Washington Post cited an official identifying the location as Colombia. There, a local police officer working with US colleagues sent to help fight the war on drugs "arranged 'sex parties' with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years.
- Obama to host Pope Francis on September 23
US President Barack Obama will host Pope Francis at the White House on September 23, accepting an invitation extended during talks at the Vatican last year. The White House said the president and the pope will continue a dialogue about poverty, the environment, immigration and promoting religious freedom. "The president looks forward to continuing this conversation with the Holy Father during his first visit to the United States as pope," a statement said. The 78-year-old leader of the world's Roman Catholics confirmed late last year that he would visit the United States to take part in a Catholic Church congress in Philadelphia.
- Yemen offensive has 'no impact' on Iran nuclear talks: US
US involvement in a coordinated military attack on Iran-allied rebels in Yemen will have "no impact" on nuclear talks with Tehran, a senior US official told AFP on Thursday. "We have always been clear that the P5+1 negotiations are solely focused on the nuclear issue," the official said, requesting anonymity and referring to the group of six nations engaged in talks. The United States has announced it would provide "logistical and intelligence support" to the Saudi-led military attack on Huthi rebels that began Wednesday. Ties between the Huthi and Iran are opaque.
- Saudi strikes Yemen rebels as Iran warns of 'dangerous step'
Warplanes from a Saudi-led Arab coalition bombed Huthi Shiite rebels on Thursday in support of Yemen's embattled president, as regional rival Iran warned the intervention was a "dangerous" move. Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, on the eve of a regional summit in Egypt, declared his full support for the strikes against the Huthis who he said had carried out a "coup" in Yemen. The rebels and their allies had been closing in on main southern city Aden, where President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has been holed up since fleeing the rebel-controlled capital Sanaa last month.
- Clarke warns Kiwis of MCG factor in World Cup final
Skipper Michael Clarke says Australia's experience playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will be a major factor in Sunday's World Cup final against New Zealand. Australia put themselves in line for a fifth World Cup title with an emphatic 95-run semi-final victory over defending champions India in Sydney on Thursday. The Black Caps won a nerve-tingling semi-final against South Africa in Auckland on Tuesday with a six off the penultimate ball to book their first World Cup final appearance after losing all six of their previous semi-finals. New Zealand downed Australia by one wicket in a sensational finish to their low-scoring pool game in Auckland earlier in the tournament, but Clarke believes it will be different in Sunday's final.
- US jobless claims fall
New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits fell last week, continuing to trend lower as the labor market improves, according to official data released Thursday. Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, fell by 9,000 to 282,000 in the week to March 21, the Labor Department said. The Labor Department said there were no special factors impacting the data.
- French 2014 deficit smaller than expected, growth at 0.4%
France's public deficit increased by slightly less than expected in 2014, while growth in the eurozone's second biggest economy was confirmed at 0.4 percent, the same as in 2013, the Insee statistics agency said Thursday. Last year, France's deficit was equivalent to 4.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), smaller than the 4.4 percent originally projected, and compared with 4.1 percent in 2013, Insee said in a statement. The slightly improved result "has opened the possibility to revise lower the public deficit for 2015, at around 3.8 percent of GDP," instead of the 4.1 percent previously estimated for this year, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said in a statement. The new deficit projection would put France below the target recently set by Brussels of 4.0 percent of national output for this year.
- Kerry held conference call with Gulf ministers on Yemen
US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday held a conference call with Gulf ministers to discuss the Yemen crisis amid Saudi air strikes on Huthi rebels, a senior US official said. The top US diplomat "commended the work of the coalition taking military action against the Huthis" and noted Washington's support "including intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Huthi targets," the State Department official said. Kerry last met with all the ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh earlier this month to brief them on the Iran nuclear deal he is negotiating in Switzerland, as well as to discuss the crisis in Yemen and the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
- Somali pirates return, seize Iranian fishing vessel
Pirates have seized an Iranian vessel fishing illegally off the coast of Somalia in the first successful hijacking in almost three years, officials said Thursday, raising fears that the scourge of Somali piracy may be returning. "An Iranian vessel, fishing illegally in Somali waters, was hijacked earlier this week," said Alan Cole of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). At its peak in 2011, Somali pirates were responsible for the hijacking of 28 vessels and 237 incidents, but international navies and armed guards on ships reduced attacks. In the past, Somali pirates justified their attacks saying they had to defend their fishing grounds from illegal trawlers.
- Johnson's double strike rocks India in World Cup semi-final
Sydney (AFP) - Paceman Mitchell Johnson struck a double blow for Australia with the wickets of India's star batsmen Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in nine balls in the World Cup semi-final in Sydney on Thursday.
Geändert: 10.12.2010 19:40 Uhr