Defense chief Robert Gates keeps pushing for repeal of gay ban

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Congress on Friday to lift a ban on gays serving openly in the military, saying he was disappointed by the Senate’s failure to act this week and fearful of leaving the issue to the uncertainty of the courts. Read more

Obama weighs effort to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats and Republicans should begin a conversation next year about a broad overhaul of the U.S. tax code that would involve lowering rates while eliminating tax breaks for favored groups, President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Friday. Read more

Defense secretary sees support for Iran sanctions

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – Iran’s neighbors are clearly concerned about Tehran’s “aggressive behavior” and support international sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear ambitions, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday after a week of travel that included stops in two Gulf states. Read more

Obama says regrets Liu can’t attend Nobel ceremony

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Friday he regretted that neither Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo nor his wife would be allowed to attend the ceremony in Oslo awarding Liu the Nobel Peace Prize and urged China to do more to advance democracy. Read more

Democrats defy Obama on tax deal as Senate sets vote

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Angry Democrats in the House of Representatives on Thursday rejected President Barack Obama’s plan to extend low tax rates, as the Senate scheduled a vote on the measure, which has significant Republican support. Read more

Senate Republicans block 9/11 health bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a bill that would provide medical care for firefighters and other responders to the September 11, 2001, attacks who developed illnesses from breathing toxic, dust-filled air. Read more

Airport pat-down of India envoy appropriate: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An airport pat-down of the Indian ambassador to the United States in Mississippi angered her government but the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday said it was appropriate under the circumstances. Read more

Obama dangled White House visit to ease Ivorian row

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama offered to invite Laurent Gbagbo to the White House if he respected Ivory Coast’s election and stepped down, but has not received a response, a White House official said on Thursday. Read more

Bid to repeal military gays policy fails in Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a White House-backed bid to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military, but lawmakers seeking to end the policy said they would soon try again. Read more

U.S. labor group to oppose Obama on South Korea trade

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The largest U.S. labor organization said on Thursday it will fight President Barack Obama on a free trade deal with South Korea, despite changes his administration made to the pact to broaden support. Read more