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Dec 20, 2014

Obama mocks absurd plot twist of cyber attack on Sony

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Faced with the most destructive cyber attack of a company on U.S. soil, President Barack Obama resorted to humor to explain an absurd plot that even Hollywood did not see coming.

In his rebuke of Sony Pictures’ decision to shelve “The Interview,” about a fictitious plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Obama said the public did not have to look farther than the film’s stoner-comedy stars to gauge its threat.

Dec 19, 2014

Obama says normalization offers best chance to influence Cuba

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Normalized relations with Cuba will give the United States its best chance to influence the communist-ruled island, President Barack Obama said on Friday, and he urged Congress to ease the U.S. economic embargo against Havana.

Obama, who announced on Wednesday that Washington was restoring diplomatic relations with Havana, said the historic end of decades of hostility between the two countries would not bring quick changes but ultimately would lead to greater freedom for the Cuban people.

Dec 19, 2014

Obama says Sony ‘made a mistake’ in pulling ‘The Interview’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said Sony Pictures “made a mistake” in pulling the satirical film “The Interview” after suffering a devastating cyber attack blamed on North Korea. “I wish they (Sony) would have spoken to me first,” Obama said at a news conference. “I would have told them, ‘Do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.’”

Obama made the remarks after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said North Korea was behind the cyber attack over the film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Dec 18, 2014

U.S. Republicans look for ways to block normal ties with Cuba

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in Congress searched on Thursday for a strategy to sink or at least slow President Barack Obama’s plan to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba, drawing a shrug from the White House.

They floated ideas to fight the Democrat Obama’s moves to forge ties and expand commercial ties with the communist-led island after half a century of hostility. Their ideas included denying funds to reopen a Havana embassy and blocking the confirmation of a U.S. ambassador.

Dec 18, 2014

U.S. Secret Service too insular, needs outside leader, more agents: review

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Secret Service is in dire need of an overhaul that requires an outside leader, an infusion of agents and more training – not to mention a better fence – to protect the White House, an independent review concluded on Thursday.

An executive summary of the highly classified review revealed deep problems at the top of the Secret Service, which is charged with guarding the U.S. president and other senior government officials.

Dec 18, 2014

White House does not dismiss idea of Castro visit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House does not dismiss the possibility of an eventual, precedent-shattering visit to Washington by Cuban President Raul Castro as part of President Barack Obama’s plans to normalize relations with Havana.

“I wouldn’t rule out a visit from President Castro,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday, a day after the two governments announced they would restore ties and open embassies after half a century of hostility.

Dec 17, 2014

Obama grants first commutations under new clemency program

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Eight Americans serving time for drug
offenses will be allowed to leave prison ahead of schedule next
year, making them the first inmates to earn reduced sentences
through a broad clemency program announced by the Obama
administration earlier this year.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday granted the commutations
to men and women from Alabama, Virginia, Iowa and other states
who were in prison for possessing crack cocaine or
methamphetamine, with the intent to distribute the drugs or
related charges.

Dec 11, 2014

U.S. Senator Hatch sees hope for tech immigration bill in new year

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior Republican in the U.S.
Senate plans to revive legislation early in 2015 that would
raise the cap for temporary work visas for programmers,
engineers and high-skilled workers.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said his tech-focused bill could be
a way for lawmakers to start to make progress on the polarizing
issue of immigration reform.

Dec 7, 2014

Congressional Republicans to grill Obamacare consultant at hearing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in the U.S. Congress plan to renew their attacks on President Barack Obama and his signature healthcare plan on Tuesday when they grill a consultant who said “the stupidity of the American voter” helped ensure the law’s passage.

Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said panel members will ask consultant Jonathan Gruber about possible deceptions and a lack of transparency in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Dec 5, 2014

Obama nominates Ashton Carter for Pentagon chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) РU.S. President Barack Obama nominated longtime Defense Department understudy Ashton Carter as his fourth defense secretary on Friday to replace Chuck Hagel, the lone Republican in Obama’s Cabinet, who resigned last week after disagreements with the White House.

In Carter, Obama gets a policy expert who has worked for 11 defense secretaries. The 60-year-old Carter pronounced himself ready to give Obama candid, strategic advice once he clears U.S. Senate confirmation, which should move fairly quickly.

    • About Roberta

      "Based on Capitol Hill, I help cover U.S. energy and environmental policy. I have reported on commodities since 1995, and have been with Reuters since 2002, moving to Washington from Canada in 2008."
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