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May 17, 2015

U.S. Republicans claim enough votes to pass fast-track trade bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top Republicans predicted on Sunday that both chambers of Congress would muster the votes to pass the “fast-track” authority sought by President Barack Obama to negotiate major trade deals, despite opposition from Obama’s fellow Democrats.

“Yes, we’ll pass it. We’ll pass it later this week,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview with ABC.

May 8, 2015

U.S. asks China to investigate cyber attack targeting U.S. sites

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has asked Beijing to investigate reports that China interfered with Internet content hosted outside the country and used it to attack U.S. websites, the State Department said on Friday.

“We are concerned by reports that China has used a new cyber capability to interfere with the ability of worldwide Internet users to access content hosted outside of China,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said.

May 7, 2015

Texas shooting sign of lone wolf attacks to come in U.S.: experts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attacks like Sunday’s shooting at a Texas event featuring cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad are a bigger threat in the United States than any by foreign fighters returning radicalized from Syria or Iraq, security experts told a U.S. Senate panel.

The so-called lone wolf attackers will be American, inspired by the Islamic State militant group, radicalized online and have easy access to guns, Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation think tank said at a Senate hearing.

May 6, 2015
via Tales from the Trail

South Carolina’s governor not playing favorites among ‘friends’ running for president


South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama upon Obama’s arrival in Columbia, South Carolina March 6, 2015. Also pictured are Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (L) and a Secret Service agent (R). REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has a lot of friends running for president next year and she is not taking sides — yet.

Apr 22, 2015

White House says ‘job is not done’ in Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Yemen remains unstable and much more work needs to be done in the region, despite a declared halt to the Saudi-led bombing campaign in the country, the White House said on Wednesday.

“Obviously, the job is not done,” Jen Psaki, White House communications director, said on CNN.

Apr 20, 2015

U.S. tightens airport worker screening after gun smuggling arrest

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. airport workers will be subject to extra security screening under new rules prompted by the December 2014 arrest of a baggage handler in Atlanta on gun smuggling charges, federal authorities said on Monday.

Airport and airline employees will now have to be screened before flying by the Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said. They will also face an increase in random screening throughout their workday.

Apr 16, 2015
via Tales from the Trail

Chafee says “I’m running,” campaign says, “Not yet”


Lincoln Chafee got ahead of his own campaign on Thursday over a  possible bid to challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (R) gestures after signing the the Marriage Equality Act into law and handing it to Speaker Gordon Fox (L) at the State House in Providence, Rhode Island, May 2, 2013. Rhode Island became the 10th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Apr 9, 2015

Islamic State assault was catalyst for Iraqi unity, Biden says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Islamic State’s assault on northern Iraq last summer galvanized the country’s rival factions to fight a common enemy and halt the militant group’s momentum, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

In an upbeat assessment before a White House meeting next week between U.S. President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, Biden said Iraq has gained the upper hand against the radical Sunni group since it seized territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a “caliphate” eight months ago.

Apr 7, 2015

U.S. says Iran sanctions face phase-out, Obama knocks Israel demand

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States made clear on Monday that sanctions on Iran would have to be phased out gradually under a nuclear pact and President Barack Obama poured cold water on an Israeli demand that a deal be predicated on Tehran recognizing Israel.

“The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms,” Obama said in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR).

Apr 6, 2015

Netanyahu seeks better deal on Iran; Obama says it is best hope on nuclear issue

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the United States on Sunday to seek a better deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program and said he would press American lawmakers not to give Tehran “a free path to the bomb.”

President Barack Obama, hoping to sway skeptics at home and abroad to get behind the framework agreement struck on Thursday between world powers and Iran, defended the deal as the best hope to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.