25 November 2014

AP sources: EPA to propose stricter smog standard

WASHINGTON (AP) — Coming full circle on a campaign promise, the Obama administration will propose Wednesday to reduce the amount of smog-forming pollution allowed in the air, which has been linked to asthma, lung damage and other health problems.

25 November 2014

Tough to make a case against police in shootings

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announces the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year old, on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cristina Fletes-Boutte, Pool)WASHINGTON (AP) — A Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict a policeman for the killing of Michael Brown illustrates the difficulty of making a case against officers in fatal shootings and points to the likelihood of a similar outcome for a federal civil rights probe of the case.


25 November 2014

In blow to tax negotiators, Obama threatens veto

U.S. President Obama talks about immigration reform in ChicagoWASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama pledged on Tuesday to veto a deal still under negotiation in Congress that would make several expiring business tax breaks permanent. The warning marks a major setback to House and Senate negotiators who were trying to reach a deal on so-called "tax extender" breaks worth some $440 billion over 10 years. "The President would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families," White House spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said in a statement. ...


25 November 2014

Americans are smoking less than ever

The percentage of Americans who are smokers has fallen to an all-time low, now representing just 17.8 percent of the population, a study has foundThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the number of American adult smokers fell from 45.1 million in 2005, or 20.9 percent of the US population at the time, to 42.1 million. Despite progress in reducing the overall number of US smokers, rates remained on the high side for some groups, particularly lower-income people, as well as gays and lesbians, the CDC said.


25 November 2014

Holder: 'Disappointed' by violence in Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder makes calls related to the situation in Ferguson in his office at the Department of Justice in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday he was "disappointed" by the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed a grand jury's decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown.


25 November 2014

US may send additional troops to Afghanistan next year

US soldiers walk through the site of a suicide attack in Kabul on October 13, 2014The US military likely will keep a slightly larger force in Afghanistan in 2015 than first planned and American troops will have authority to come to the aid of Afghan forces if necessary, officials said Tuesday. The United States may have to deploy hundreds of additional forces in coming months, beyond the 9,800-strong contingent announced previously, because of a shortfall in troop contributions from NATO members, defense officials told AFP. Commanders were still working out the details but there was a shortage of roughly 400 to 700 NATO troops that would need to be filled temporarily by US forces through the winter months of 2015, said a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The shortfall was a result of the delayed signing of a bilateral security agreement this year between Washington and Kabul, which also complicated deals with other NATO countries to deploy troops to Afghanistan starting next year.


25 November 2014

Obama takes on hecklers over immigration policy

President Barack Obama tries to quiet one of three hecklers as he addresses the crowd after meeting with community leaders about the executive actions he is taking to fix the immigration system Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)CHICAGO (AP) — Taking on the hecklers who've been interrupting his speeches lately, President Barack Obama argued back Tuesday with a point-by-point rebuttal of their arguments and suggested they "get the facts."


25 November 2014

AP sources: Top candidate for defense job bows out

FILE - This Dec. 7, 2011 file photo shows former U.S. Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy, preparing for a bilateral meeting in Beijing, China. Flournoy, a main contender to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, has taken herself out of consideration for the Pentagon's top job, people familiar with the process said Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Michele Flournoy, a main contender to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, has taken herself out of consideration for the Pentagon's top job, people familiar with the process said Tuesday.


25 November 2014

Troop force tripled in Ferguson as Obama condemns violence

National Guard troops secure the police station in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 25, 2014More than 2,000 soldiers were ordered into the riot-torn US town of Ferguson on Tuesday, as President Barack Obama condemned violence which erupted after a grand jury chose not to charge a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teen. After a night of racially-charged unrest following Monday's decision, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said the National Guard force in the Ferguson area would be tripled to 2,200 in a bid to quell a repeat of the looting and arson.


25 November 2014

Democrats vow to thwart emerging Republican budget plan

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in Congress on Tuesday vowed to reject an emerging Republican effort to split immigration-related funding from a full-year government spending bill that avoids a government shutdown. The plan, being pushed by some conservative Republicans including incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, would provide a short-term funding extension only for immigration agencies as a way to exert leverage against President Barack Obama's immigration order last week. ...

25 November 2014

Obama heckled over immigration policies in Chicago appearance

U.S. President Obama talks about immigration reform in ChicagoBy Steve Holland CHICAGO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama was interrupted several times by hecklers during a speech on his immigration policy on Tuesday, and their complaint was that his plan did not go far enough in protecting illegal immigrants from deportation. At least four hecklers, all of them women, yelled at the president at the Copernicus Center where he had gone to promote his go-it-alone immigration plan that will remove the threat of deportation for up to 4.7 million illegal immigrants. ...


25 November 2014

Top Democrat says Obama focus on healthcare in 2009 was mistake

U.S. Senator Schumer casts his vote at a polling station in the Brooklyn Borough of New YorkBy Amanda Becker WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top U.S. Senate Democrat said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats made a major political blunder in 2009 when they chose to focus on healthcare reform instead of concentrating on fixing the economy. Charles Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said it "made no political sense" for the party to push healthcare reform as its highest domestic priority when lack of health insurance coverage affected only a small portion of voters. ...


25 November 2014

The National Guard, America's citizen soldiers

National Guard troops secure the police station in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 25, 2014, a day after violent protests that followed a grand jury decision in the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael BrownThe National Guard is a centuries-old military network that has served crucial roles in several US security operations, testing its mettle in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as on riot-plagued streets back home. Its Missouri units were deployed into Ferguson to help quell unrest that erupted after a grand jury did not indict a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in August. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said the National Guard presence in the Ferguson area would triple to 2,200, with the citizen soldiers tasked with keeping the peace and securing public safety following a night of racially-charged violent protests. Whether rushing to help the hurricane-battered US Gulf Coast in 2005, conducting counter-terrorism or peacekeeping operations abroad, or facing off with deadly consequences against unarmed anti-war demonstrators in 1970, the National Guard has served important but often controversial roles.


25 November 2014

Top contender for Pentagon job bows out: source

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy testifies during a hearing on June 23, 2011A former senior US defense official touted as the most likely candidate to succeed Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief has taken herself out of the running, a source familiar with the situation told AFP on Tuesday. Michele Flournoy, 53, was widely considered the frontrunner for the post of defense secretary and if confirmed would have been the first woman to hold the position. "I can confirm she has written to the CNAS board informing them she has taken herself out of the running for the defense secretary's job," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Foreign Policy website first broke the news.


25 November 2014

Obama condemns 'criminal' Ferguson violence

US President Barack Obama speaks in Chicago on November 25, 2014President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemned the violence that erupted in Ferguson in the wake of the decision not to charge a white police officer over the fatal shooting of a black teenager. "Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk ... there's no excuse for it," Obama said in Chicago, calling for anyone found guilty of involvement to be prosecuted.


25 November 2014

Takata exec due back in hot seat before US lawmakers

A crash-test dummy at Takata's crash-testing facility in Auburn Hills, MichiganThe US House of Representatives has called a senior Takata executive back to Washington for a new hearing over the company's faulty airbags tied to several deaths and hundreds of injuries. Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata's senior vice president for global quality assurance, has been asked to testify on December 3, the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Tuesday. Also called to testify are a top official of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has urged a nationwide recall of vehicles with certain Takata-made driver's seat airbags, and representatives from Honda, Toyota and BMW. Takata is accused of knowing for years that its airbags can deploy with excessive explosive power and send shrapnel into a car's passengers, without making them public.


25 November 2014

US top court to review power plant emissions rules

Katherine Boswell works in her garden in the shadow of the coal fired Morgantown Generating Station, on May 29, 2014 in Newburg, MarylandThe US Supreme Court said on Tuesday it will review national environmental standards requiring power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants. The country's highest court received three complaints from 21 US states and industry groups protesting standards imposed in 2012 that require power plants to cut toxic emissions. The complaints, lodged against the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), oppose the "huge costs" required to comply to the standards. Supreme Court justices issued a brief written order saying they would consider whether the EPA "unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted" by power plants.


25 November 2014

Two Americans charged with supporting IS

The US Department of Justice sealTwo young American men, one of whom is in the Middle East fighting, have been charged with supporting the Islamic State group, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Somali Americans Abdi Nur, 20, and Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, have been charged with "conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)," Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said. Yusuf was to appear in court Tuesday in Minneapolis, where there is a large Somali American community. Abdi Nur, who traveled May 29 to Turkey, through which many jihadists pass en route to fight with IS, was to have returned to the United States June 16 but did not, the statement added.


25 November 2014

US Army may station tanks in Eastern Europe: general

The first US troops arrive at the airport in Swidwin, Poland on April 23, 2014The US Army plans to deploy about 150 tanks and armored vehicles to NATO countries next year and some of the heavy armor may be stationed in Eastern Europe, a top American general said Tuesday. The move is part of a US effort dubbed "Operation Atlantic Resolve" in the Baltic states and Poland to reassure allies anxious about a resurgent Russia, with American troops deploying for several months at a time to conduct joint exercises. Nearly 50 armored vehicles are already in place and another 100 M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles will be "pre-positioned" in Germany and possibly elsewhere for the US troops conducting drills with NATO partners, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges told AFP in a phone interview from Estonia.


25 November 2014

'Burn this b---- down!' Michael Brown's stepfather criticized for reaction to grand jury decision

FergusonMichael Brown's stepfather is being criticized for inflammatory comments he made to a crowd of protesters shortly after learning of the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of his unarmed stepson.