Archives for News

Obama’s role in immigration bill under review

President Barack Obama’s prospects for a sweeping legislative victory this year now rest almost solely on the immigration overhaul working its way through Congress. But immigration’s tricky politics have created a dilemma for a president fighting for an issue he considers central to his legacy. If Obama is too closely aligned with the legislation, it could scare away Republicans wary of appearing to hand the president a win. But if he stays on the sidelines and the overhaul runs into trouble on Capitol Hill, Obama likely will be criticized for not using his presidential powers to fight for votes, as
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Democrats appear headed for victory in Massachusetts special election

National Republicans cheered former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez’s Massachusetts primary victory, but Democratic Congressman Ed Markey enjoys tremendous advantages in the special election to replace former U.S. Sen. John Kerry. Tuesday’s primary elections set up an eight-week sprint to the June 25 election. In Markey, the race pits a longtime liberal politician known for environmental advocacy against Gomez, a fresh-faced social moderate with a distinguished biography and untested political skills. On paper, it looks like a competitive contest, but Republicans quietly concede that Markey is the strong favorite in a state where only around 11 percent of voters are registered
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Senator confronted over vote against gun background checks

A woman whose mother was killed in last year’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn., confronted Sen. Kelly Ayotte Tuesday during the senator’s first public appearance in New Hampshire since voting against gun control legislation. About 150 people attended the town hall meeting, where Ayotte defended her vote against a bill that would have required criminal and mental health background checks for people buying guns online or at gun shows. After the vote two weeks ago, the New Hampshire Republican, a former prosecutor, expressed concern that expanded background checks could harm the rights of gun owners. “I’m just wondering why the
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Angered lawmakers demand change in flawed military justice system

Outrage over an Air Force officer‘s decision to overturn a jury’s guilty verdict in a sexual assault case has Republicans and Democrats joining forces on ambitious legislation to change the military justice system. On both sides of the Capitol, lawmakers have interpreted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel‘s recent proposal to essentially strip commanding officers of their ability to reverse criminal convictions of service members as an opening to revise the decades-old Uniform Code of Military Justice. Congress repeatedly has challenged the military’s lack of resolve in fighting sexual assault in its ranks, an offense considered far more prevalent than the reported
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Arizona now forcing municipalities to sell guns from buy-back programs

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Monday signed legislation forcing municipalities to resell firearms from gun buy-back programs rather than destroy them, closing a loophole in the conservative state’s laws. Brewer, a Republican and staunch gun rights advocate, signed the bill preventing local governments from melting down the weapons obtained from these popular civic events. Before the new law, the state had allowed such firearms to be destroyed. A spokesman for Brewer could not immediately be reached for comment late on Monday. The bill had the support of the National Rifle Association and Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature. It cleared the state Senate
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FBI probes questionable activity by Virginia governor

The FBI has begun looking at the relationship between Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and the chief executive of a nutritional supplements manufacturer that is the subject of an investigation, two people with knowledge of the review said. Federal authorities began questioning people close to McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, as an outgrowth of a securities probe of Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc., said the two people, who spoke Monday on the condition of anonymity because their roles in the case preclude them from speaking publicly. They said FBI agents have asked questions about gifts the McDonnells have received from company CEO
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Blacks voter turnout now higher than whites in America

America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home. Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press. Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible
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Congress forces Army to accept tanks it doesn’t want

Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army’s hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle. Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams. But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.” It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt. Yet
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CIA paid tens of millions in cash to Afghan President

Tens of millions of U.S. dollars in cash were delivered by the CIA in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to the office of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for more than a decade, according to the New York Times, citing current and former advisers to the Afghan leader. The so-called “ghost money” was meant to buy influence for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but instead fuelled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan, the newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying. “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan”, one American official said, “was the United States.” The CIA
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Even with less pay, American consumers keep spending

This year got off to a sour start for U.S. workers: Their pay, already gasping to keep pace with inflation, was suddenly shrunk by a Social Security tax increase. Which raised a worrisome question: Would consumers stop spending and further slow the economy? Nope. Not yet, anyway. On Friday, the government said consumers spent 3.2 percent more on an annual basis in the January-March quarter than in the previous quarter — the biggest jump in two years. It highlighted a broader improvement in Americans’ financial health that is blunting the impact of the tax increase and raising hopes for more
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