April, 2014

04/19

Iran general urges Tehran to choose new UN diplomat
A senior Iranian military official has urged the foreign ministry to choose a new envoy to the U.N., after the U.S. blocked its chosen ambassador over his reported ties to the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Delay won't quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL pipeline
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

First Lady to appear on May episode of ABC's 'Nashville'
Michelle Obama is going a little bit country. The first lady's office says she will appear on the May 7 episode of the ABC country music drama "Nashville" -- in an episode is titled "All Or Nothing With Me" set at Kentucky's Fort Campbell.

04/18

No comment from White House on 'deport Bieber' petition
The White House has two words for those who want President Obama to deport Canadian pop star Justin Bieber -- No comment.

Illinois Medicaid program paying for dead clients, memo says
An internal Illinois government memo has found that state's Medicaid program has paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people listed as deceased in other state records.

Unemployment rates fall in 21 US states last month
More than two-thirds of U.S. states reported job gains in March, as hiring improves for much of the country during what has been a sluggish but sustained four and-a-half year recovery.

White House makes economics focus of Asia trip
The White House is focusing President Obama's upcoming Asia-Pacific trip on the economic benefits of closer ties to the region. But tensions between Russia and Ukraine will likely push regional security concerns higher on the president's agenda.

Britain's opposition party hires former top Obama adviser
Britain's opposition Labour Party has recruited a former top adviser to U.S. President Obama, who was a key figure behind his two presidential victories, to help with its leader's election bid next year.

Keystone XL pipeline supporters denounce latest delay
Republicans are denouncing the latest delay in the review process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada -- a controversial process that has dragged on now for more than five years.

Colorado deaths stoke worries about edible marijuana
Two recent deaths in Colorado have stoked concerns about the state's recreational marijuana industry, and the effects of marijuana edibles that can be exponentially more potent than a typical joint.

Sebelius not considering a run for US Senate, HHS says
A spokeswoman for departing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday that the former Kansas governor is not considering a run for the U.S. Senate.

Clock ticking for states to adopt health exchanges
More than 30 states that defaulted to the federal government to run their health insurance markets must decide if they want to take a crack at it themselves. Time is running out with hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money at stake.

04/17

Toronto mayor promises to fight harder than ever for re-election
Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is acknowledging "some rocky moments over the past year," but on Thursday promised to fight harder than ever to win re-election in October.

Obama sends condolences on South Korea ferry disaster
President Obama is sending condolences to victims of a South Korean ferry disaster, saying that the U.S. has an "unwavering commitment" to its ally South Korea in good times and bad -- and will pay tribute during a visit to the country next week.

Obama says no US military involvement in Ukraine
President Obama is repeating his position that involving the U.S. military in Ukraine is not an option he is considering, because what's happening in Eastern Europe is not a situation that would be amenable to a military solution.

Ukraine talks bring parties together, raise hope
The talks on Ukraine in Switzerland brought together four parties that had seemed extremely far apart on some issues, but within a few hours they produced a broad agreement that holds out substantial hope for a crisis on the verge of spinning out of control.

Steps have been taken to ease Ukraine tensions, Kerry says
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that diplomats from Russia, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine have all agreed on a series of steps aimed at de-escalating violence in strife-ridden Ukraine.

Snowden questions Putin on Russian surveillance policies
Several hours into Vladimir Putin's televised call-in show Thursday, one of the TV anchors interrupted viewers' questions to air what she said was a "sensational video" for the Russian president -- a message from Edward Snowden.

04/16

US working on non-lethal aid package for Ukraine
U.S. officials say the Obama administration is working on a package of non-lethal aid for Ukraine that could include medical supplies and clothing, but would stop short of providing body armor and other military-style equipment.

NJ traffic jam committee plans to call Christie's staff
The New Jersey legislative committee investigating a political retribution scandal orchestrated by Gov. Chris Christie's aides plans to call people who work for the governor to testify in the case, beginning next month.

Clinton White House documents to be released Friday
When released Friday, the records will cover a wide range of topics -- including former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's role in health care reform, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and foreign policy involving Rwanda, Iran and the Middle East.

Defend 'Obamacare' unabashedly, some Dems say
Some Democrats say it's time for their party to openly embrace President Obama's health care law now that better news is coming from it. Activists in one Senate race are doing just that. But other Democratic candidates remain wary.

Opponents in gay marriage case set to make arguments
Lawyers for a couple challenging Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage, and the clerk who refused to grant them a license, are headed to a federal appeals court with a rare opportunity to fine-tune their arguments.

Japanese drug-maker to pay $7M in settlement with US
A unit of Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma will pay the U.S. government more than $7 million, to resolve claims it illegally marketed its antifungal drug Mycamine for children before that use was approved.

Some exempted from minimum wage, increased or not
Some workers will not benefit from a raise the federal minimum wage, even if the Democrats' long-shot legislation makes it through Congress. That's because many categories of jobs are exempt from the hourly minimum.

Ex-UN official sorry for doing nothing during Rwanda genocide
The man who was president of the U.N. Security Council 20 years ago, during the Rwanda genocide, apologized Wednesday for the council's refusal to recognize that the extermination against the Tutsi minority was taking place.

04/15

West Virginia man accused of threatening US senator
A 49-year-old West Virginia man has been indicted on charges that he made four separate threats to kill U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin last month, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

US eyes more action against Russia if talks fail
The State Department said the U.S. is eyeing a new round of sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, but any new move is unlikely until after a diplomatic meeting later this week in Switzerland.

Immigration activists warn Obama, Dems of political backlash
Latinos and immigration activists are warning of political peril for President Obama, along with other Democrats in the fall election, unless the president acts to curb deportations and allow more immigrants to remain legally in the U.S.

Djibouti president to visit White House next month
President Obama will meet with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh at the White House next month, which formally recognizes the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Djibouti.

Woman who tossed shoe at Clinton re-arrested, officials say
Authorities on Tuesday said they have again arrested an Arizona woman, who is accused of throwing a shoe at Hillary Rodham Clinton while she gave a convention speech at a Las Vegas Strip resort last week.

US Justice chief will travel to Kansas for shooting memorial
The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday said that Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Overland Park, Kansas later this week to pay tribute to the victims of the shootings at Jewish community sites last weekend.

Texas candidate faces thorny death penalty choice
The death penalty has strong public support in Texas. But Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for governor, must soon make a decision as attorney general that could disrupt the nation's busiest death chamber.

Union fights Congress' intent to have IRS use private collectors
A public employees union is fighting a bipartisan effort in Congress to force the Internal Revenue Service to hire private contractors to collect some delinquent taxes -- something the agency hasn't done for five years.

Indecision in Congress may cause layoffs, Cabinet official says
The U.S. secretary of transportation said Tuesday that indecision by Congress, about how to pay for programs, is again threatening to set back or shut down road and transit projects across the country --which could result in widespread layoffs.

Obama to faith leaders: No immigration fix planned
President Obama told religious leaders Tuesday that he has no plans to make unilateral changes to the nation's immigration laws. That's according to Luis Cortes, the president of the Hispanic faith-based organization Esperanza.

Iran protests UN ambassador ban to United Nations
Iran has formally protested Washington's refusal to grant a visa to its new U.N. ambassador. Tehran's U.N. Mission sent a letter to the Committee on Relations with the Host Country and released a copy of it Monday night. 

04/14

Pulitzer for NSA coverage reflects tradition in news
Coverage of the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance program that won the Pulitzer Prize for public service on Monday follows a tradition of bucking the U.S. government on matters of secret intelligence.

Snowden says Pulitzer Prize for NSA coverage a 'vindication'
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said Monday that giving the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service to those who reported on the U.S. government's sweeping surveillance efforts is "vindication" of his actions.

Feds charge woman in Hillary Clinton shoe-throw
Authorities have filed federal charges against an Arizona woman accused of throwing a shoe on stage while Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a convention speech in Las Vegas last week.

Democratic California lawmaker backs off 'carbon tax'
California's state Senate leader is backing off a proposal for a so-called carbon tax, and instead wants to dedicate billions generated by the state's greenhouse gas reduction law to affordable housing, mass transit and high-speed rail.

US says proof shows Russia is driving Ukraine unrest
The White House said Monday that there is "overwhelming evidence" that Russia is driving the unrest in eastern Ukraine -- but President Obama has not yet concluded that the actions warrant more sanctions.

Obama plans to host Uruguay's president next month
The White House said Monday that Uruguay's president is planning to visit next month -- that the May 12 visit will highlight the Obama administration's support for President Jose Mujica's record on human rights and global security.

Biden to attend Brazil's World Cup soccer tournament
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is planning to be among the attendees at this summer's World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, and see the U.S. national team play, the White House announced on Monday.

Gov. Christie 'nervous' when scandal linked to aides
Newly released notes from interviews with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by his lawyers show that the governor was nervous about finding out who else on his staff might have been involved in a politically motivated traffic jam scandal.

Maryland governor signs pot decriminalization bill
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Monday signed a bill that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana, beginning in October.

Mrs. Obama and 'first dogs' visit military heroes' families
Michelle Obama said Monday that she is shining a light on military families who are her heroes -- as well as a medical facility that treats them -- as she gives thanks during an early Easter celebration.

Report projects health care costs to decline slightly
A new government report says the Affordable Care Act's health insurance subsidies will cost a little less than previously thought -- a little more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

White House says CIA director traveled to Ukraine
The White House on Monday confirmed that CIA Director John Brennan traveled to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev over the weekend, amid the ongoing tensions that nation has with the Russian government.

Canada prime minister says Russia trying to turn back clock
Canada's prime minister on Monday said that Russia's actions against Ukraine are "aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic" -- and that it's time everyone recognizes the depth and seriousness of Moscow's actions.

Native Americans ask for international help in US land dispute
A Native American Indian group is asking the international community to charge the United States with human rights violations -- hoping that will assist them in reclaiming more than two million acres of land in upstate New York.

Ohio judge orders state to recognize same-sex marriages
A federal judge on Monday ordered Ohio authorities to recognize the marriages of gay couples performed in other states -- while criticizing what he called "ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

Popular Iowa governor suddenly faces controversies
Longtime Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has found himself in the unfamiliar position of juggling mini-scandals as he prepares to seek yet another term in office.

04/13

Chances of getting audited by IRS lowest in years
As millions of Americans race to meet Tuesday's tax-filing deadline, their chances of getting audited are lower than they have been in years, because budget cuts and new responsibilities are straining the IRS's ability to police tax returns.

Former health chief says program's launch was 'terribly flawed'
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday said the Obama administration's own predictions that the new health care law's online sign-up system would be ready last October were "just flat out wrong."

Democrat says Republican base 'animated by racism'
The head of the Democrats' committee to elect members to the U.S. House of Representatives said Sunday that the Republican base has elements that are "animated by racism."

Shoffner overshadows race for Arkansas treasurer
Despite it being a relatively little known post, the Republican primary for Arkansas treasurer has hardly been a low-key affair.

Alleged chemical attack in Syria raises new questions
Both sides in Syria's civil war are blaming each other for the alleged attack that reportedly injured scores of people on Friday. The reports come amid an ongoing international effort to rid the country of chemical weapons.

How is NY's economy? Governor candidates disagree
Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York has been on the right path during his term. Republican challenger Rob Astorino says New York is losing.

Rand Paul: US 'can't invite the whole world'
Senator Rand Paul says potential White House rival Jeb Bush was inarticulate when he described immigrants who come to the United States illegally as committing an "act of love."

Obama, Republicans compete for support among women
President Barack Obama and the Republican Party already are competing hard for the support of women in the November elections.

04/12

Obama reiterates call for equal pay for women
President Barack Obama is stepping up his call for equal pay for women, reinforcing a top election-year issue for Democrats eager to mobilize women to vote.

School budget elections disappearing in New Jersey
The April school budget election is swiftly becoming a thing of the past in New Jersey. On April 23, voters in just 26 communities across the state will hold the elections in which voters are asked to approve their school property tax levy.

Rand Paul says conservatives need a bold message
Potential presidential contender Rand Paul says conservatives need a bold message to "hit those who haven't been listening" and to keep their political movement growing.

Cruz says he's optimistic about turning US around
Ted Cruz says he's optimistic about the country's future.

04/11

Obama points to 'scoreboard' as judgment of health law
Even though the implementation of the new health care law was plagued by stumbles, President Obama said Friday that "the final score speaks for itself" -- as more than seven million people signed up for coverage in 2014.

Republicans glad to see Sebelius go, hope health law is next
The Senate's top Republican is welcoming the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, saying it's the start of a candid conversation about what he calls "Obamacare's shortcomings."

US, China to hold talks on North Korea next week
The U.S. and China will hold talks next week about North Korea, which recently threatened to conduct another nuclear test. The State Department announced Friday that the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy will host his Chinese counterpart.

American imprisoned in Cuba ends hunger strike
An American who has been imprisoned in Cuba for more than four years, after illegally setting up Internet access on the island, has suspended his hunger strike after more than a week.

Obama says US voting rights under threat by GOP
President Obama said Friday that the right to vote in the United States is under a greater threat now, than at any time since the Voting Rights Act passed nearly five decades ago. 

Woman accused of tossing shoe at Clinton released
A Phoenix woman accused of throwing a shoe at Hillary Rodham Clinton during a speech in Las Vegas has been freed after being given a misdemeanor disorderly conduct summons, authorities said.

Leaked findings paint pattern of CIA deception
The Senate Intelligence Committee has found a pattern of CIA deception about the effectiveness of harsh interrogations after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obamas pay $98k in taxes on income of $481k
The White House says President Obama and Michelle Obama paid just over $98,000 in taxes on income of nearly half a million dollars in 2013. The couple's tax returns were posted on the White House website Friday.

NY attorney general, congressman seek smartphone 'kill switch'
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei are calling on Congress to require smartphone makers to install "kill switches" on phones to render them useless if stolen.

White House says no visa for Iran's UN ambassador pick
The White House on Friday said it has informed the Iranian government that it will not issue a visa to its pick for ambassador to the United Nations -- a man who was involved in the group who took 52 Americans hostage during the crisis in 1979.

China the world's biggest polluter; US second, UN report says
The U.N.'s expert panel on climate change is preparing a new report this weekend -- which seeks to outline the necessary cuts in greenhouse gases required in coming decades to keep global warming in check.

White House budget director named as new HHS secretary
President Obama on Friday said he is nominating his current budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to succeed Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary.

Sebelius steps down as HHS secretary, says gov't making progress
Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday that the government is making tremendous progress toward fixing what she called a broken health care system.

Appeals court upholds EPA's lack of carbon emission standard
A federal appeals court said Friday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted reasonably when it decided not to change the primary air quality standard for carbon monoxide.

Virginia attorney general files brief supporting gay marriage
Virginia's attorney general on Friday told an appellate court, reviewing a judge's ruling that the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, that homosexuals have as much a right to marry as interracial heterosexual couples.

Sentencing date set in Mississippi Ricin letters case
A federal judge has set a May 14 sentencing date for a Mississippi man who pleaded guilty to making Ricin and sending letters dusted with the poison to President Obama, a U.S. senator, and a Mississippi judge.

04/10

Hundreds of Connecticut Republicans meet for Bush's talk
Nearly 700 Republicans are gathering in Stamford to hear from former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush, mentioned as possible presidential candidate in 2016.

Sebelius resigning from top gov't health post, White House says
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who faced a firestorm of criticism during and after the troubled launch of President Obama's new health care program, is resigning from her post, the White House Said Thursday.

Obama calls Merkel to check in on Ukraine crisis
As he flew back to Washington, D.C. on Thursday aboard Air Force One, President Obama spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel by telephone to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

Obama commemorates 50th anniversary of Civil Rights Act
A half-century after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Obama said Thursday that the nation is still "locked in the same great debate about equality and opportunity and the role of government."

Senate Democrats ask Obama to approve Keystone pipeline
Eleven Senate Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of May. The senators say the five-year review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline has been "exhaustive" and taken longer than justified.

Black lawmakers appeal to Pentagon over military hairstyle ban
Black female lawmakers are urging the U.S. Department of Defense to reconsider revised Army regulations that ban hairstyles frequently worn by minority women in the military.

Obama meets Texas gov candidate during civil rights event
President Obama visited briefly with Texas' Democratic candidate for governor on Thursday at the LBJ Presidential Library, where he delivered a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Feds give Washington access for marijuana background checks
After a year of requests, the U.S. Justice Department says it is giving Washington state access to an FBI database so it can conduct nationwide background checks on people who apply to run legal marijuana businesses.

Former US diplomat added to FBI's 'most wanted' list
A former diplomat who is suspected of killing his wife, mother and three sons nearly 40 years ago was added Thursday to the FBI's list of "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives."

US budget deficit falls in March to $37 billion
The U.S. government's budget deficit shrank to just $37 billion in March from $107 billion in the same month last year, the latest sign of improvement in the nation's finances. The deficit was the lowest for the month of March in 14 years.

Congress approves bill to ban Iran ambassador from US
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that will prohibit the man chosen by Iran to be its ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States.

Congressman caught kissing aide faces uncertain future
House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said the Republican congressman who was caught on security camera footage kissing one of his female aides has a decision to make about his political future -- stay and fight, or go home.

Tax refund fraud a growing problem, federal authorities say
An Internet connection and a bunch of stolen identities are all it takes for crooks to collect billions of dollars in bogus federal tax refunds. And the scam is proving too pervasive to stop.

NJ traffic jam committee considers its next move
A New Jersey legislative committee investigating a political payback scheme launched by Gov. Chris Christie's aides is reviewing its options after an adverse ruling from a judge.

04/09

Republican National Committee raises $10 million this month
The Republican National Committee said it raised $10.2 million in March and has more than $12 million in the bank heading toward November's elections.

Senate Dems' committee outraises GOP rivals
The campaign committee to elect Democrats to the Senate again outraised its Republican counterpart in March. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday said it raised $8.1 million in March, bringing its total for the year to $21.4 million.

US House defeats bipartisan fix to health care law
The House on Wednesday rejected a bipartisan fix to the Affordable Care Act, that would exempt U.S. health plans sold to expatriate workers from having to comply with the law's mandates.

For Obama, comparisons to LBJ are frustrating
Perhaps no historical analogy irks the White House more than the comparisons between Presidents Obama and Lyndon Johnson, two Democrats who occupied the Oval Office a half-century apart.

Former president Bush greets Obama in Houston
President Obama received an unexpected greeting upon his arrival in Houston on Wednesday -- as former President George H.W. Bush turned out to welcome him to the 41st president's hometown.

Former LA area officials plead no contest to stealing money
Five former elected officials, who were charged with stealing millions of dollars from the modest Los Angeles suburb of Bell, on Wednesday pleaded no contest to misappropriating public funds.

Russia rejects US warnings over oil deal with Iran
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Wednesday in remarks carried by the RIA Novosti news agency that his government has rejected U.S. warnings against striking an oil-for-goods contract with Iran.

Judge says ex-aides for Christie can withhold documents
A New Jersey judge ruled Wednesday that two key figures in a political payback scandal, ensnaring Gov. Chris Christie's administration, do not have to turn over documents to a legislative investigative panel.

Charlotte gets fourth new mayor since last spring
Dan Clodfelter has been sworn in as the fourth mayor of Charlotte since last spring. He replaces Patrick Cannon, who resigned after less than six months in office after he was arrested on federal bribery charges.

US officials reject senator's claim about CIA report
U.S. officials said Wednesday that the State Department wants to declassify a 10-month-old letter that expresses concerns about a controversial Senate torture report.

Anti-censorship 'awards' go to White House, federal gov't
The dubious anti-censorship awards, known as the "Jefferson Muzzles," are being awarded this year to the federal government and the White House -- for snooping on the news media and limiting their access.

Obamas send prayers to high school stabbing victims
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday sent their thoughts and prayers to the victims of a stabbing spree at a Pennsylvania high school, the White House said.

Hillary Clinton's book set to be released June 10
Hillary Rodham Clinton's new book on her time as President Obama's secretary of state will be released on June 10, her publisher said Wednesday.

Congressman's bid to boost lawmakers' pay falls short
A retiring congressman has lost his ambitious bid to give members of Congress $25 a day to help with their living expenses in Washington, D.C., since lawmakers have not received a cost-of-living pay increase in five years.

US government blacklists Egyptian extremist group
The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on an Egypt-based group that has claimed responsibility for attacks against Egyptian officials, Israeli interests and foreign tourists in Cairo and the Sinai peninsula.

Democrats call GOP-led Benghazi probe a 'witch hunt'
House Democrats on Wednesday said a Republican-led investigation into the deadly attack against the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya nearly two years ago is a partisan "witch hunt," and they are demanding that it be stopped.

Homeland secretary re-evaluating US deportation priorities
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that he is re-evaluating the Obama administration's deportation priorities -- to make sure they're focused on national security, public safety and border security.

House committee approves bill naming peak after Reagan
About the only thing former President Ronald Reagan doesn't have named after him is a mountain -- not one recognized by the federal government anyway. But that may soon change.

Ex-IRA official may be prosecuted by Justice Department
The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to refer a former Internal Revenue Service official to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in the agency's targeting controversy.

04/08

GOP Senate committee raises $6 million in March
The Republican committee tasked with electing senators raised more than $6.3 million in March and is sitting on almost $16 million. The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday said it raised almost $16.5 million during the first three months of this election year. The committee is not carrying any debt.

Brown to start New Hampshire Senate bid Thursday
Republican Scott Brown is officially kicking off his campaign for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seat on Thursday to formally announce his campaign in Portsmouth late that evening.

Biden promotes Democratic voter expansion effort
Vice President Joe Biden is promoting a Democratic Party effort to expand voter access to the ballot box in an online video released Monday by the Democratic National Committee.

Cochran runs ads against 'powerful interests'
Sen. Thad Cochran is running ads against "powerful interests" that are funneling millions of dollars to his challenger in the Republican primary. Two of those outside groups, meanwhile, are airing their own ads criticizing the six-term Mississippian.

Research: Most states improve election performance
A new report by a nonpartisan public policy group said Americans spent an average of three minutes less standing in line to vote in the 2012 presidential election than they did four years earlier. An exception was Florida, where the wait increased by 16 minutes.

Ted Kennedy Jr. to run for Connecticut Senate
Ted Kennedy Jr. is expected to announce he's running for the state Senate in Connecticut. Two people briefed on the decision said Monday the son of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts will announce Tuesday evening he intends to seek the Democratic nomination for the 12th Senatorial District.

County considers volunteer crime-scene specialists
The Josephine County Sheriff's Office is understaffed and desperate for help, so they're turning to local volunteers to help process crime scenes. The Daily Courier of Grants Pass reports the program is still under consideration.

Massachusetts Governor: Minimum wage hike on track
Gov. Deval Patrick said he's confident House and Senate lawmakers will hammer out a compromise on minimum wage legislation that has run into parliamentary roadblocks on Beacon Hill.

Lawmaker Yee due back in court for arraignment
Suspended state Sen. Leland Yee is due back in federal court for his alleged role in a San Francisco political corruption and organized crime case.

Companies opposed to health care law have benefited from it
Several major U.S. corporations have reaped millions of dollars thanks to President Obama's health care overhaul -- while supporting Republican candidates who are trying to have it eliminated.

Feinstein asks White House to edit CIA torture report
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is appealing to President Obama to remove the Central Intelligence Agency from leading the edit of a report that is harshly critical of the agency's actions involving torture interrogations over the last decade.

Biden to attend anniversary of Boston Marathon bombing
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will attend a memorial service next week in Boston marking the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, his office said Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton says "brave" Russian punk band won't be silenced
Hillary Clinton is praising the Russian punk music band Pussy Riot as "strong and brave young women" who refuse to let their voices be silenced.

Obama aunt who stayed in US illegally dies at age 61
A relative of President Obama, who was denied asylum in the U.S. but stayed illegally anyway for years has died in Massachusetts at the age of 61, her attorney said Tuesday.

Bipartisan critics slam Kerry on foreign policy
Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back Tuesday against withering criticism by Republicans and some fellow Democrats, defending the Obama administration's response to an emboldened Russia, nuclear talks with Iran and the Syrian civil war.

New program would boost veterans' jobs in Congress
Members of Congress often urge federal agencies and the private sector to hire military veterans, but a new survey suggests that they rarely follow that advice when hiring for their personal staff.

Angry exchange on Capitol Hill over Cuban Twitter
An angry exchange occurred on Capitol Hill Tuesday between the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Sen. Patrick Leahy, over the Twitter-like social media network that the U.S. government secretly built in Cuba.

Evidence in California corruption case remains sealed
Grand jury testimony and other potential evidence against a suspended California state senator should remain sealed, and not be handed over to his attorney at this time, a Los Angeles judge said Tuesday.

US trying to determine if Cuba Twitter should have been 'covert'
Senate lawmakers are going to be questioning the nation's international-aid agency about a secret, U.S.-backed social media network that was built to stir unrest in Cuba.

US says Iran's choice for UN envoy is 'not viable'
The United States has notified the Iranian government that its choice of a man -- who participated in the 1979 taking of American hostages -- to be Iran's new U.N. ambassador is not viable, the White House said Tuesday.

Russia facing tough new sanctions in Ukraine, US says
The Russian government now faces additional, even harsher economic sanctions if it doesn't back down from its involvement in Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.

US military strike would not have stopped Syria war, Kerry says
Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that a threatened U.S. military strike, that would have punished Syrian President Bashar Assad last summer, would not have stopped that nation's ongoing civil war.

Kerry says Israel missteps not helpful in Mideast peace talks
The United States' top diplomat said Tuesday that talks in the Mideast peace process faltered after Israel refused last month to release prisoners, as Palestinian leaders demanded, before moving forward with even more settlements in the West Bank.

US to cut Air Force nuclear arsenal by 50 missiles
The Obama administration on Tuesday said the number of launch-ready Air Force land-based nuclear missiles will shrink to 400 — the lowest total since the early 1960s — as part of a plan for complying with a U.S.-Russia arms treaty.

04/07

Education Writers Association honors top scribes
The Education Writers Association is honoring top journalists from newsrooms across the nation with its 2013 National Awards for Education Reporting.

Obama urges House to take up Senate's jobless bill
President Barack Obama is urging the House to embrace a Senate-passed measure to resurrect federal jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Olympians say selfies were banned at White House
Some of the U.S. Olympic athletes said Monday that they were asked to keep their cell phones in their pockets last week, when they visited the White House -- not long after a photo taken during the Boston Red Sox visit caused a stir.

Judge in McConnell case says former officials can't weigh-in
Five former Virginia attorneys general won't be allowed to file court papers arguing that public corruption charges against ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell should be dismissed, a judge ruled Monday.

Water woes endanger North Korea reactor, report says
A U.S. research institute said North Korea may have temporarily shut down a plutonium nuclear reactor earlier this year, as it grappled with water supply problems that could threaten the safety of its nuclear complex.

Iran ambassador dispute unites Dem, GOP senators
The congressional outcry over allowing a former hostage-taker involved in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to serve as Iran's ambassador at the United Nations is uniting Democrats and Republicans.

John Kerry to meet with top diplomats on Ukraine
Secretary of State John Kerry is going to meet with top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. It's part of a new push to calm tensions in eastern Ukraine.

Democrats say ex-CIA chief's remarks are gender-based
Leading Democrats are now criticizing a former CIA director, who suggested the classified Senate torture report is motivated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein's "emotional feeling" and not objectivity.

US Senate nears passage of jobless benefit bill
The U.S. Senate is closing in on the passage of election-year legislation that would restore jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed -- a law that expired late last year, leaving many of the nation's unemployed without any income.

Supreme Court rejects appeal over gay bias case
An advocacy group said the U.S. Supreme Court should have no more chances to rule on the issue of gay rights versus religious freedom -- after the court rejected an appeal from a photo studio that refused to photograph a lesbian couple's ceremony.

Obama to headline civil rights summit in Texas this week
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas is hosting a civil rights summit this week -- which will be highlighted by a keynote address from President Obama, officials said.

US warns Russia not to intervene in eastern Ukraine
The White House on Monday issued a warning to the Russian government against intervening in eastern Ukraine, and threatened to impose even more economic sanctions if it ignored that warning.

Supreme Court refuses to take early look at NSA ruling
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take an early look at a constitutional challenge to the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records.

04/06

Hagel to become the first foreign visitor aboard China ship
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to get a rare tour of China's first aircraft carrier on Monday, becoming the first foreign visitor to board the ship.

Obama pays tribute to victims of Rwanda genocide
President Obama on Sunday remembered the victims of the Rwandan genocide -- an event he said was "neither an accident nor unavoidable."

Jeb Bush will make decision on 2016 run later this year
Jeb Bush said all the speculation about whether he will run for president in 2016 is actually getting him more attention than if he had already entered the race.

Former San Diego mayor's confinement comes to end
Bob Filner's confinement was slated to end Sunday, fulfilling a sentence for felony false imprisonment and two misdemeanor charges of battery involving victims of sexual harassment

Obama plans to attend Fort Hood service Wednesday
A White House aide says President Barack Obama plans to attend a memorial service Wednesday at Fort Hood — the site of last week's shooting rampage.

Five signs US job market may finally be accelerating
Few people responded to the March jobs report with high-fives and cheers. But there may be reasons to applaud in the months ahead.

Candidates to file for 2014 Oklahoma elections
Elections for both of Oklahoma's U.S. Senate seats, the open 5th Congressional District seat and statewide seats including governor will highlight a busy 2014 political season that formally kicks off this week.

04/05

Prospect of spy's release latest twist in 30-year legal saga
News that the Obama administration was considering releasing Pollard early from prison revived the familiar wedge between his supporters and detractors and focused new attention on the sensational espionage case.

Retired general taking another look at US nuclear corps
Service leaders took an assessment last year of the nuclear Air Force as an encouraging thumbs-up. Yet, in the months that followed, signs emerged that the nuclear missile corps was suffering from several issues.

Obama: Republican budget would shrink opportunity
President Barack Obama says the Republican budget proposal would shrink opportunity and make it tougher for hard-working Americans to get ahead.

Jeb Bush to headline Conn. GOP fundraiser
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is starring at the Connecticut Republican Party's 36th annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner.

Obama says Afghan election marks important milestone
President Obama says Afghanistan's presidential election marks another important milestone, and that the Afghan people are taking full responsibility for their country as the United States gradually withdraws its forces.

04/04

Senator dismisses opponent for lack of college degree
A top Republican candidate in Georgia's U.S. Senate race is dismissing one of his opponents for not having a college degree as he touts his own experiences as a businessman.

Army's new hair regulations worry African American womenbout Army hair regulations
New Army regulations dealing with hair are coming under criticism by some black military women, who said changes are racially biased. The Army earlier this week issued new appearance standards that ban most twists, dreadlocks and large cornrows.

Democratic governors raise $12.5M in last three months
The Democratic Governors Association said it raised $12.5 million in the first three months of this year, roughly half what its Republican counterparts collected.

Holder: US needs "balanced approach" on heroin
Attorney General Eric Holder said the government needs to deal differently with the heroin epidemic than it did with the crack cocaine crisis decades ago.

Republican candidate in Georgia uses Obama in ad
A Republican running in the crowded Georgia Senate primary is running ads that feature an imaginary phone call from President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Connecticut ex-governor again caught up in scandal
Former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, who served time in a federal prison for a corruption scandal became a radio talk show host, is finding himself again in the crosshairs of federal investigators.

US official says Iran nuke deal to be drafted in May
A U.S. official said Friday that world powers and Iran will begin drafting a comprehensive nuclear agreement next month, as the sides are apparently making progress in talks.

IRS paid over $50 million to whistleblowers in 2013
In an annual report to Congress on Friday, the Internal Revenue Service said it paid whistleblowers a total of 122 awards last year -- equaling more than $50 million -- for turning in tax cheats.

Kentucky Senate challenger made speech at cockfight rally
The Tea Party candidate who's challenging Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell for his seat in Congress raised eyebrows last weekend when he spoke at a rally intended to build support for legal cockfighting.

Investigator gave US nuclear force positive review last year
A retired general who was chosen to explore flaws in U.S. nuclear forces signed off last year on a report that said the nuclear corps is professional, disciplined and effective -- a stark contrast to what has become known since.

California senator, many others indicted in corruption case
A California state senator, along with more than two dozen others, was formally indicted on Friday in a sweeping political corruption case in San Francisco that has involved local authorities and the FBI.

Obama's health care law adds three million to Medicaid
The Obama administration said Friday that three million Americans signed up for Medicaid under the new health care law -- offering its first accounting of how much the program has grown since implementation of the law.

North Korea says US 'hell-bent' on overthrowing government
The North Korean government on Friday warned the United States that any maneuver intended to change its reclusive communist regime will be viewed as a red line that will result in countermeasures.

Senate committee approves release of CIA torture report
The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to release parts of a hotly contested, secret report that harshly criticizes CIA terror interrogations after 9/11 -- and the White House said it would instruct intelligence officials to cooperate fully.

Man appeals sentence for shooting at White House
A man who was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison for shooting at the White House is appealing his sentence. A lawyer for Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez filed the one-page notice of appeal Friday.

04/03

Connecticut lawmakers expected to vote on chimp lawsuit
A legislative committee is expected to vote on whether to grant a Connecticut woman disfigured in a 2009 chimpanzee attack the ability to sue the state and seek financial damages.

First lady plants White House garden for spring
Michelle Obama has replanted her garden indicating a sign that spring has come to the White House. This is the sixth planting of the garden on the South Lawn.

Hillary Clinton to promote anti-poverty effort
Former U.S. secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak at the launch of a campaign aimed at ending extreme global poverty by 2030.

Conservative group runs ads without Koch approval
A seniors group that received almost $16 million from the conservative Koch brothers is running ads that the billionaire siblings do not support.

Boehner buys TV ad time in his Ohio district
House Speaker John Boehner is spending $125,000 on television ads in his Ohio district to fend off three fellow Republicans in the primary.

Obama signs law providing Ukraine loan guarantees
President Obama on Thursday signed into law a bill providing $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, and also punishes Russia for its bold annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

Afghan election could reset US-Kabul relations
While many Americans have given up hope that Afghanistan can ever prosper in peace, tens of thousands of Afghans are flocking to campaign rallies ahead of Saturday's presidential election.

Obama clears way for South Sudan sanctions
President Obama on Thursday signed an executive order allowing the U.S. to sanction individuals and entities involved in stoking the ongoing violence in South Sudan, the White House said.

Senators urge US to deny visa to Iran ambassador
Nearly 30 Republican senators have written to President Obama urging him to deny a visa to a former hostage-taker, who has become Iran's choice for ambassador to the United Nations.

Senate panel votes to release CIA torture report
The White House said that intelligence officials will be told to quickly comply with Thursday's vote by a Senate panel, to release parts of a secret report that criticized CIA terror interrogations after 9/11.

US, Algeria to strengthen counterterrorism ties
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday said the United States wants to strengthen its cooperation with Algeria to fight terrorism in the unstable Sahel region.

White House objects to Samsung's use of Obama in ad
The White House is not amused that Samsung is promoting a self-taken photo with the president that was taken by Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz on a Samsung phone, during a visit to the White House this week.

Olympic athletes get their White House moment
The White House is getting an Olympic-sized boost of energy as members of the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic teams from Sochi get their moment at the executive mansion.

House Republicans move against Obama's health care law
House Republicans are launching a new attack on President Obama's new health care law, just days after the administration beat expectations by signing up more than seven million Americans.

US will stand by allies in disputes with China, official says
The United States on Thursday said that the Chinese government should not doubt the U.S. resolve in meeting its defense commitments to its allies, amid China's efforts to interdict Philippine vessels in the South China Sea.

White House says 'Cuban Twitter' not a covert program
The White House said Thursday that a "Cuban Twitter" communications network created by the U.S. government was a development program and not a covert operation.

FDA approves easy-to-use heroin overdose antidote
The government is taking a step to let friends or loved ones treat someone they suspect has overdosed on heroin or powerful painkillers called opioids, while they're waiting on medical care.

Ex-US attorney general named as Belmont Law College dean
A former U.S. Attorney General in the Bush Administration was named Thursday the dean of Belmont University's College of Law in Tennessee, school officials said.

Obama vows to get to bottom of deadly Ford Hood shooting
President Obama said late Wednesday that the federal government will get to the bottom of what happened during a shooting incident at Fort Hood in Texas.

04/02

Washington DC mayoral nominee can't breeze to victory
Muriel Bowser's decisive primary victory makes her the favorite to be sworn in as Washington, D.C.'s next mayor. But she can't expect to breeze through the general election, like Democratic nominees have in four decades of elections.

Obama to meet with top lawmakers on Ukraine crisis
The White House on Wednesday said that President Obama will meet with top lawmakers on Thursday about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which includes possibly sending more aid to the region amid the takeover by Russia.

Kerry denounces use of energy as weapon
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday denounced the use of energy as a weapon, one day after Russia sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine.

John Kerry in Algeria for reform, security talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Algeria Wednesday for talks on economic and political reforms and strategic security cooperation, including counterterrorism.

NATO general warns that Russia capable of quick strike
The American general who commands all NATO forces in Europe said Wednesday that Russia has 40,000 troops along the border with neighboring Ukraine -- and that they are capable of attacking by land and air on just 12 hours' notice.

Former CIA official says no politics in Benghazi memo
A former CIA official has been defending the changes he made to the talking points that were put together in the aftermath of the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya in 2012.

US unhappy with choice of former hostage-taker as Iran diplomat
The Obama administration on Wednesday said it is troubled by Iran's choice for its ambassador to the United Nations, and it has raised those concerns to Tehran about the nomination.

Las Vegas among leaders in push for GOP convention
Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio have been eliminated as possible sites for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Las Vegas remains an early leader. Other finalists include Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., and two other cities in Ohio.

Senators suggest prosecutions may be coming for GM
U.S. Senators on Wednesday suggested that someone at General Motors could be facing prosecution, over the handling of an ignition switch that is now linked to 13 deaths. 

ACLU picks winners in national gay-wedding contest
The American Civil Liberties Union's primary work is litigation, but this month it is moonlighting as a wedding planner -- as part of its role in the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

Second suit filed challenging Texas' new abortion law
Another federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday that challenges new provisions in Texas' tough restrictions on abortion -- less than a week after a federal appeals court reversed a previous legal challenge.

Senators question whether anything has changed at GM
General Motors chief executive Mary Barra is back before Congress on Wednesday, where members of a Senate subcommittee are expressing doubts that the culture at the nation's No. 1 automaker has really changed.

Senate jobless benefits bill advances slowly
Legislation to renew a program of benefits for the long-term unemployed has taken another step toward Senate approval, despite complaints from Republicans that Democrats are refusing to allow votes on possible changes.

Second-ranking Senate Dem says minimum wage talks possible
The U.S. Senate's second-highest-ranking Democrat said Wednesday that he would be open to negotiating a compromise, if Republicans block Democrats' efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

White House disappointed in ruling on campaign contributions
The White House on Wednesday said it is disappointed with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down overall financial limits for political campaign contributions.

Nationwide marijuana legalization inevitable, new poll says
The legalization of marijuana nationwide, following the lead of Washington state and Colorado, seems inevitable to three-fourths of Americans, whether they support it or not, a new survey shows.

04/01

GOP's small-state edge boosts its Senate hopes
Americans' habit of sorting themselves into Republican and Democratic regions is rewarding GOP Senate candidates because of their success in small conservative states.

Former Senator Scott Brown joins GOP lunch in Capitol
Scott Brown is dropping in on the Republican Senate caucus that he once belonged to and that he hopes to join again.

New report on well-being of US youths shocks experts
A new report on child well-being has turned an unflattering spotlight on some places not used to being at the bottom of such lists -- like Wisconsin, which had a worst-in-the-nation ranking for its black children.

Iran names former hostage-taker as its new UN ambassador
A Republican senator sais on Tuesday that the Iranian government has named a former hostage-taker, who was involved in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, as its ambassador to the United Nations.

American spy's release in play for Mideast peace
Every president since Ronald Reagan has refused to release American spy Jonathan Pollard from prison. A CIA director once threatened to resign if Pollard was freed as part of peace talks between Israel and Palestinian leaders.

Obama signs temporary Medicare fix bill for docs
President Obama on Tuesday signed into law a bill giving doctors temporary relief from a flawed Medicare payment formula, that threatened them with a 24 percent cut in their fees.

Will satisfied goal of health care sign-ups save Democrats?
Mocking his critics, President Obama boasted Tuesday that 7.1 million people have signed up for his health care law -- an unexpected comeback after a disastrous rollout sent his poll numbers plummeting and stirred fears among Democrats.

US confirms NSA's warrantless searches of Americans
The Obama administration's top intelligence official says the government has conducted warrantless searches of Americans' communications, as part of the NSA's spy operations that target foreigners located outside of the U.S.

US Service Service seeks to reassure gov't after embarrassment
U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson on Tuesday said the latest embarrassment, which involves a drunken agent on an overseas trip with the president, was an isolated incident.

Congress presses GM CEO to explain delay in recall
Documents submitted to Congress by General Motors show the piece needed to fix a defective ignition switch linked to 13 traffic deaths would have cost just 57 cents.

No troop deaths in Afghanistan in March, Pentagon says
The Pentagon said Tuesday that there were no U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in March, the first zero-fatality month there since January 2007 -- more than seven years ago.

Congress to pass aid Ukraine, sanction Russia
Congress was near passage on Tuesday of a bill to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to cash-poor Ukraine, and take punitive measures against Russia for its brazen annexation of part of the former Soviet satellite nation.

Energy Dept. delays re-entry to New Mexico nuclear dump
The U.S. Department of Energy has postponed plans to get a crew underground to begin investigating a radiation leak from the federal government's nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico.

Deal emerging on Mideast talks extension, official says
An official close to the Mideast peace talks said Tuesday that a deal is emerging to extend the troubled negotiations -- including the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for 400 Palestinian prisoners.

US wants more troops at Black Sea base, Romania says
The president of Romania, who has heavily criticized the Russian government recently, said Tuesday that the United States has asked to increase the number of troops and aircraft it has stationed at a Black Sea air base there.

White House surpasses target with seven million health sign-ups
President Obama is planning a speech in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday afternoon, as sign-ups under his health care law surpassed the seven million-mark -- one million more than the administration had targeted.

Obama welcomes MLB champion Red Sox to White House
President Obama on Tuesday welcomed the World Series champion Red Sox to the White House, praising their triumph on the field last fall while hailing them as a symbol of their city's determined response to last year's Boston Marathon bombings.

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