Archives for News

Key element of Obamacare delayed

President Barack Obama’s health care law, hailed as his most significant legislative achievement, seems to be losing much of its sweep. On Tuesday, the administration unexpectedly announced a one-year delay, until after the 2014 elections, in a central requirement of the law that medium and large companies provide coverage for their workers or face fines. Separately, opposition in the states from Republican governors and legislators has steadily undermined a Medicaid expansion that had been expected to provide coverage to some 15 million low-income people. Tuesday’s move — which caught administration allies and adversaries by surprise — sacrificed timely implementation of
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Illinois governor vetoes part of state’s new concealed carry law

Illinois governor Pat Quinn on Tuesday vetoed parts of a gun bill that would have allowed people to carry more than one gun, carry guns into some places that serve alcohol, and carry a partly exposed gun. Flanked by parents of gun violence victims, Democrat Quinn said at a press conference that he objected to at least nine provisions of the new Illinois concealed carry measure that was passed by the legislature. “This is a flawed bill with serious safety problems that must be addressed,” Quinn said. After the press conference, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton,
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Budget cuts hurt federal funding to fight wildfires

This year’s across-the-board budget cuts are slicing tens of millions of dollars from the federal government’s funds for battling wildfires, reductions that have meant fewer firefighters and could cause agencies to dip into other programs designed to prevent future blazes. The U.S. Forest Service‘s $2 billion-a-year firefighting budget, which comprises the bulk of the federal effort, has been reduced by 5 percent, a cut that has meant 500 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer fire engines than last year, agency officials say. The Interior Department‘s $37.5 million reduction has meant 100 fewer seasonal firefighter positions and other lost jobs as well,
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Americans swamped, angered by flood insurance changes

Just a year after Congress imposed significant changes in the government’s oft-criticized flood insurance program, howls of protest from homeowners facing higher premiums have coastal lawmakers pressing for delays that would preserve below-cost rates for hundreds of thousands of people in flood-risk areas. The government can’t say how many people could confront higher premiums, but homeowners in places like Staten Island, N.Y., along the battered New Jersey coast and in low-lying areas of Louisiana, Florida and Texas face the prospect that new government surveys could produce flood insurance premium increases so big that they could be forced from their homes
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So, what’s a little spying among friends?

President Barack Obama had a simple answer to European outrage over new allegations that the U.S. spies on its allies: The Europeans do it too. Obama said Monday during his trip to Africa that every intelligence service in Europe, Asia and elsewhere does its best to understand the world better, and that goes beyond what they read in newspapers or watch on TV. It was an attempt to blunt European reaction to new revelations from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden that the U.S. spies on European governments. “If that weren’t the case, then there’d be no use for an
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Snowden withdraws request for Russian asylum

NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek refuge outside the United States hit hurdles Tuesday, after Russian media reported he canceled his asylum bid in Russia and several European countries said such applications wouldn’t be considered if they were made from abroad. Russian news agencies Tuesday quoted President Vladimir Putin‘s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Snowden withdrew his request when he learnt about the terms Moscow has set out. Putin said on Monday that Russia is ready to shelter Snowden as long as he stops leaking U.S. secrets. At the same time, Putin said he had no plans to
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The shadows of Edward Snowden, Syria crisis

The Syrian crisis and National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden overshadowed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry‘s meeting Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an Asian summit in Brunei. Lavrov declined to sum up his more than 90-minute meeting with Kerry, telling reporters only that their discussion was “excellent.” After saying goodbye to Lavrov, Kerry ducked back into the room where he had meetings scheduled with Asian leaders. Kerry earlier said wanted to talk to Lavrov about Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s regime, which is fighting against opposition forces armed by Western and
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Where 2016 GOP Presidential hopefuls stand on immigration, gay marriage

Major developments on immigration reform and gay marriage offer an early preview of potential lines of division among a group of Republicans who are viewed as potential White House candidates in 2016. Here’s a look at where they stand on the issues. ___ IMMIGRATION REFORM — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: Bush, a longtime advocate of comprehensive immigration reform, said in a statement that the Senate vote was a “strong step for meaningful immigration reform and encouraging legal immigration for those that want to contribute to a better America.” He said the legislation “secures our borders and allows the 11
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U.S. now tries to rationalize spying on allies

The U.S. says it gathers the same kinds of intelligence as other nations to safeguard against foreign terror threats, pushing back on fresh outrage from key allies over secret American surveillance programs that reportedly installed covert listening devices in European Union offices. Facing threatened investigations and sanctions from Europe, U.S. intelligence officials plan to discuss the new allegations — reported in Sunday’s editions of the German newsweekly Der Spiegel — directly with EU officials. But “as a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” concluded a
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Uncertain future for immigration bill in House

The immigration debate is shifting to the Republican-led House, where lawmakers have shown little appetite for the large-scale, comprehensive approach their Senate colleagues embraced last week. The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that any attempt at comprehensive immigration legislation cannot offer a “special pathway to citizenship” for those in the United States illegally. Democrats have called that position a deal-breaker. Meanwhile, both parties eyed the politics that could yield electoral victories or irrelevance among the growing Hispanic voting bloc. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who leads the House Judiciary Committee, said he does not foresee
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