27 April 2015

Israel invites bids for 77 E.Jerusalem settler homes: NGO

A general view of housing units in the northern area of east Jerusalem, seen on January 30, 2015Israeli authorities invited tenders on Monday for the construction of 77 homes in settlement neighbourhoods of annexed east Jerusalem, settlement watchdog Peace Now said. Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran told AFP it was the first such announcement in east Jerusalem since a March 17 general election win by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party. Both are located at the northern edge of east Jerusalem. "Publication of these tenders in east Jerusalem is liable to be an indicator from Netanyahu's transitional government of what can perhaps be expected -- God forbid -- when the new government is formed," it said.


27 April 2015

Clinton Foundation acknowledges mistakes in revealing donors

FILE - In this Tuesday, April 21, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to students and faculty during a campaign stop at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord, N.H. The acting chief executive of the Clinton Foundation is acknowledging the global philanthropy made mistakes in how it disclosed its donors amid growing scrutiny as Hillary Rodham Clinton opens her presidential campaign, Sunday, April 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The acting chief executive of the Clinton Foundation says the global philanthropy is working quickly to remedy mistakes it made in how it disclosed donors, saying that its policies on transparency and contributions from foreign governments are "stronger than ever."


27 April 2015

Pioneer for gay marriage among lawyers for high court cases

FILE - In this May 16, 2014 file photo, Attorney Mary Bonauto smiles during her speech at the Cambridge City Hall in Cambridge, Mass. to mark the 10th anniversary of the first same-sex weddings in Massachusetts and the nation. Five lawyers will take turns at the Supreme Court lectern Tuesday for the highly anticipated and extended arguments over same-sex marriage. Among them are the Obama administration’s top lawyer at the high court, with more than two dozen arguments behind him, and two lawyers making their first appearance before the justices. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Five lawyers will take turns at the Supreme Court lectern Tuesday for the highly anticipated and extended arguments over same-sex marriage. Among them are the Obama administration's top lawyer at the high court, with more than two dozen arguments behind him, and two lawyers making their first appearance before the justices.


27 April 2015

Q&A: Issues, possible legal outcomes in gay marriage cases

Jim Obergefell, center, speaks to a group of supporters during an an official send-off event in support of plaintiffs in gay marriage cases that will be argued Tuesday, April 28 before the U.S. Supreme Court, on the steps of City Hall in Cincinnati Friday, April 24, 2015. When Obergefell's husband Arthur died at age 48, Obergefell was listed on the death certificate as his surviving spouse; the couple had won a court order before Arthur's death to make it so. That victory was overturned by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati, which upheld the same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee as well. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)WASHINGTON (AP) — Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.


27 April 2015

Supporters of Senate Iran bill swatting away amendments

FILE - In this April 18, 2015 file photo, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks in Nashua, N.H. Senate proponents of a bill empowering Congress to review and potentially reject any Iran nuclear deal must first win a battle with some colleagues determined to change the legislation in ways that could sink it. “Anybody who monkeys with this bill is going to run into a buzz saw,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned ahead of this week’s debate. Also trying to discourage any changes, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey urged senators to stick with the plan as it emerged from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate plunges into a high-stakes debate this week over empowering Congress to review and possibly reject any nuclear deal with Iran, offering Republican presidential candidates a chance to prove their hawkishness toward Iran and support for Israel.


27 April 2015

Details of fundraising by rebellious House Republicans

Of the 25 House Republicans who voted in January against keeping Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, as speaker, most have seen a drop in contributions from political committees representing business and other interests, compared with two years ago.

26 April 2015

Kerry, Iran's Zarif to meet at UN anti-nuclear arms conference

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif pose for a photograph before resuming talks over Iran's nuclear programme in LausanneBy Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the opening of a UN conference on the global anti-nuclear weapons treaty on Monday, as they try to make progress in talks on a long-term atomic deal. Iran's top diplomat will be the first state party to the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to address its 190 signatories at the United Nations headquarters in New York on behalf of 118 non-aligned nations that have signed the NPT, the world's benchmark disarmament pact. Zarif and Kerry will meet on the sidelines to discuss negotiations on a landmark nuclear deal with the United States and five other global powers as they try to secure a final agreement with Iran by a June 30 deadline. In a tentative deal reached on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, between Iran and the six powers, Tehran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, agreed to curb sensitive nuclear work for at least a decade in exchange for ending sanctions that have crippled its economy.


26 April 2015

Growth pause, Greek crisis could keep Fed mum on rate rise

The Federal Open Market Committee, led by Chair of the US Federal Reserve Janet Yellen (L), has put much of the financial world on edge for months waiting for its first rate hike in nearly nine yearsThe Federal Reserve dropped its reference to staying patient before raising interest rates in its policy statement in March. The Federal Open Market Committee, led by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, has put much of the financial world on edge for months waiting for its first rate hike in nearly nine years. The removal of the pledge to remain "patient" from the policy statement last month was a clear indicator that the first rate hike could come as early as June, Yellen said at the time.


26 April 2015

Republican presidential contenders woo evangelical voters

U.S. Presidential candidate and Senator of Texas Ted Cruz speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's forum in WaukeeBy Luciana Lopez DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopefuls in Iowa and elsewhere have recently begun sounding a call to arms to Christian conservatives, describing what they say is an urgent threat to religious liberty. Citing high-profile dust-ups over religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas, the contenders are painting a vivid picture of faith under fire. “In the past month, we have seen religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said on Saturday at a forum sponsored by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition outside Des Moines.


26 April 2015

US aid team heads to Nepal quake zone

Nepalese people stay outside in tents in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 26, 2015Several dozen US aid workers and rescue dogs headed to Nepal Sunday aboard a military transport plane to provide urgent assistance after the huge earthquake that killed more than 2,500 people. The C-17 Globemaster aircraft left Dover Air Force Base in Delaware around 11:18 am (1518 GMT) and is expected to land in Nepal on Monday afternoon, the US military said. "The aircraft is transporting nearly 70 personnel including a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue team and several journalists, along with 45 square tons of cargo," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said. A total of 26 US military personnel and a C-130 transport plane are currently in Nepal, where they had been due to take part in a previously scheduled training exercise.


26 April 2015

Nepal hospitals overflowing, rural towns cut off: aid groups

A Nepali man talks on the phone as his relative is treated for injuries in a Kathmandu hospital on April 26, 2015Aid groups and governments worldwide intensified efforts Sunday to help earthquake-hit Nepal, but blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals posed formidable challenges in an already poor country. As the death toll in the Himalayan nation surpassed 2,500, the US together with European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in cut-off rural areas. "Tragically, more bodies are being pulled from collapsed buildings every hour," the Australian Red Cross said in a statement. Mike Bruce, regional communications manager for the Plan International aid organisation, said many areas -- both rural and in some of the larger towns -- had suffered landslides and roads were blocked.


26 April 2015

Kerry to meet Iran FM Zarif on Monday: US official

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks in Washington, DC on April 23, 2015US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Iranian counterpart in New York on Monday, the first time since their marathon talks which sealed the outlines of an emerging nuclear deal. Kerry will hold talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the 2015 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference at the United Nations, a senior State Department official said Sunday. It would be the first meeting between the top diplomats since the April 2 deal reached in Lausanne, Switzerland setting out the parameters for a historic accord to curtail Iran's suspect nuclear program. Work on the framework Iran agreement must be completed by June 30 but it is already earning praise as a potential happy ending to one of the world's most vexing nuclear disputes.


26 April 2015

Europe recalls the horror 70 years after Nazi camps liberated

Flowers in front of a memorial stone near the gas chamber of the former Nazi concentration camp in Natzwiller-Struthof, eastern France, on April 26, 2015European leaders on Sunday remembered the atrocities of concentration camps run by the Nazis and their allies during the Second World War with ceremonies in Germany, Croatia and France. At the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, recalled the shock of the first images to emerge from the camp when it was liberated 70 years ago. The sombre and emotional scenes were mirrored at Jasenovac in Croatia, where families, officials and diplomats gathered to remember the tens of thousands of victims, mostly Serbs and Jews, who were killed in one of the war's most brutal concentration camps.


26 April 2015

Clinton Foundation admits financial disclosure 'mistakes'

Former US President Bill Clinton and wife, Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton address the audience during the Opening Plenary Session: Reimagining Impact for the Clinton Global Initiative on September 22, 2014 in New York CityOfficials at the philanthropy founded by Bill and Hillary Clinton admitted Sunday that the organization has made financial disclosure "mistakes" and vowed to quickly correct the errors. The acknowledgment of the problems with the Clinton Foundation's financial statements, which acting CEO Maura Pally said were unintentional, were made in a lengthy statement posted on the clintonfoundation.org website. She insisted those grants have been properly listed and can be viewed on the website in the foundation's audited financial statements. Allegations surrounding the Clinton family's charitable organization has mired the early days of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in controversy.


26 April 2015

Clinton Foundation admits making mistakes on taxes

U.S. presidential candidate Clinton participates in a discussion in New Hampshire Technical Institute classroom while campaigning for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in Concord(Reuters) - The Clinton Foundation's acting chief executive admitted on Sunday that the charity had made mistakes on how it listed government donors on its tax returns and said it was working to make sure it does not happen in the future. The non-profit foundation and its list of donors have been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks. Republican critics say the foundation makes Hillary Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, vulnerable to undue influence. After a Reuters review found errors in how the foundation reported government donors on its taxes, the charity said last week it would refile at least five annual tax returns.


26 April 2015

US to soften hostage ransom policy: report

Still image taken from video and released by the SITE INtelligence Group shows Warren Weinstein, a US contractor held by Al-Qaeda militants, on December 26, 2013US officials are expected to stop prosecuting families of American hostages who communicate with kidnappers abroad or raise funds and pay ransoms, ABC news reported Sunday. A National Counterterrorism Center advisory group, ordered by the White House, is expected to recommend what would mark a radical shift in US hostage policy, according to the report. The NCTC interviewed families of hostages, including the parents of journalist James Foley, who was killed by Islamic State fighters. Foley's mother Diane has said that officials from President Barack Obama's administration repeatedly told her family it was illegal to try to raise a ransom to free her son, and warned that her family could face prosecution for doing so.


26 April 2015

Putin accuses US of direct contacts with North Caucasus militants

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Yerevan, Armenia, on April 24, 2015Russian President Vladimir Putin in a documentary broadcast Sunday accused the United States of directly contacting and providing logistical support to North Caucasus separatist militants. In the documentary "President," which has already been broadcast in far eastern Russia on Rossiya 1 television, Putin made the claim, citing intelligence from Russian special services, to state that it occurred in the early 2000s. The documentary will air Sunday evening in Western Russia. "Once our special services documented what were simply direct contacts between fighters from the North Caucasus and representatives of US special forces in Azerbaijan," Putin said.


26 April 2015

Guantanamo ex-inmates demand housing, payment from US

Former Guantanamo inmates, Ahmed Adnan Ahjam (L), Abd al Hadi Omar Mahmoud Faraj, Ali Husein Shaaban and Abdul Bin Muhammad Abbas Ouerghi pose in front of the US Embassy in Montevideo on April 26, 2015Four former Guantanamo inmates living free in Uruguay since December are demanding financial compensation and housing from the US government for their nearly 13 years in captivity. Syrian citizens Ali Husein Shaaban (33), Abd al-Hadi Faraj (39 or 40), Ahmed Adnan Ahjam (37) and Abdul Bin Mohammed Bin Abess Ourgy of Tunisia (49) have been protesting in front of the US Embassy in Montevideo since late Friday. They stressed that they hold the United States, not host country Uruguay, responsible for their current predicament, accusing Washington of neglecting them after more than a decade spent at the US military prison.


26 April 2015

Britain faces more austerity medicine, whoever wins

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron positions himself as a saviour of the British economyIn the cacophony of slogans ahead of Britain's general election on May 7 one thing is for sure -- the country faces more austerity whichever party wins. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron positions himself as a saviour who rescued the debt-ridden economy he inherited when coming to power in 2010. With economic growth picking up to 2.8 percent in 2014 and the unemployment rate falling to 5.6 percent, his Labour rival Ed Miliband has an uphill task. Labour point out the average wage of a British worker has fallen by £1,600 ($2,429, 2,234 euros) a year since Cameron took office -- and that many new jobs being created are badly paid and offer little security.


26 April 2015

Obama pokes fun at political friends and foes at White House dinner

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a toast at the 2015 White House Correspondents Association DinnerBy Tanya Basu WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At the gathering he jokingly called "a night when Washington celebrates itself," U.S. President Barack Obama took light-hearted aim on Saturday at a range of political friends and foes, including the people running to succeed him. Obama's comedy routine at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner included a sly dig at Hillary Clinton, the current front-runner to be the Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election. Noting that some Americans are living in a time of uncertainty, Obama said, "For example, I have one friend just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and she's now living out of a van in Iowa." Clinton, who as a former secretary of state, former senator and former first lady is one of America's best known figures, traveled around in a van this month in a deliberately low-key trip to the state that holds an early contest in the election primary season.