Obama in Afghanistan, says troops making progress

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (Reuters) – President Barack Obama praised American troops for “important progress” against militants in Afghanistan, during an unannounced visit to a U.S. airbase outside the capital on Friday. Read more

Senate to take symbolic votes on taxes Saturday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate will vote on two Democratic options to extend some Bush-era tax cuts on Saturday, its Democratic leader said, measures likely to fail but highlight deep ideological divisions between the parties. Read more

Military chiefs urge against ending gay ban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Military chiefs told the Senate on Friday they opposed ending the armed forces’ ban on gays anytime soon, urging caution over President Barack Obama’s effort to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Read more

Russia says leaked cables show U.S. cynicism

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Reuters) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday said leaked embassy cables showed the “cynicism” of U.S. diplomacy but suggested they would not seriously upset improving ties with Washington. Read more

Clinton says U.S. still working on Mideast talks

MANAMA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday the United States was still working to relaunch Middle East peace talks despite the Palestinian assessment that negotiations with Israel had collapsed. Read more

Congress votes to avert government shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress on Thursday extended soon-to-expire funding for the federal government for another two weeks, giving Democrats time to craft a more lasting solution. Read more

House votes to censure Rangel on ethics charges

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives censured veteran Democrat Charles Rangel for ethics violations on Thursday, forcing the former chief tax writer to face a humiliating public rebuke before his colleagues. Read more

Deficit-cutting plan stumbles in uphill climb

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bold plan to slash the U.S. budget deficit appeared on Thursday to be falling short of the support needed from members of a presidential commission to trigger congressional action. Read more