View gallerySecretary Kerry Gets Emotional Over Wife’s Condition (ABC News) Dana Hughes 7 hours agoPoliticsTeresa HeinzJoe BidenKerry Though Secretary of State John Kerry traveled back to Washington, D.C., from Boston, where he was at the side of his ill wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, to open a dialogue conference between U.S. and Chinese leaders, it was clear that his thoughts were with home. The secretary grew emotional as he spoke about her condition at the top of his remarks.”I just want to thank everyone for your extraordinary well wishes in the last days. Teresa is doing better under evaluation, and we hope improving,” said Kerry taking a pause, his voice breaking.”I want to thank everyone for the remarkable outpouring of good wishes. It’s been really special. We are very, very humbled by the expressions of support, I think she’s coming along and I know when she’s able to, she’ll thank everyone herself,” he saidTreasury Secretary Jack Lew, who was in attendance at the event, along with Vice President Joe Biden, told Kerry during his remarks that he wishes Mrs. Heinz Kerry a „speedy recovery.”Teresa Heinz Kerry has been hospitalized since last weekend, after her family witnessed her having „seizure-like” symptoms while vacationing with Secretary Kerry in Nantucket. After being hospitalized first on the island, Heinz Kerry was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston late Sunday for further treatment. Doctors have since ruled out several serious causes of her illness such as a heart attack, stroke, or a brain tumor, family spokesman Glen Johnson said in a statement on Tuesday.She remains in „fair” condition and „the family does not anticipate making any further statements until Mrs. Heinz Kerry is discharged from the hospital,” Johnson said.On Wednesday State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed to reporters that Secretary Kerry is headed back to Boston and will not participate in the remaining sessions of the U.S.-China Strategic -Economic Dialogue, taking place over the next two days. Deputy Secretary Bill Burns will attend in his place. The Secretary does plan to attend a routine meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden before leaving Washington, Psaki said. She had no further updates on Kerry’s immediate schedule.
Liberal, conservative groups push for immigration bill in the House
View galleryHouse Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, and GOP leaders, pauses while meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, following a Republican strategy session. House Republicans confronting the politically volatile issue of immigration are wrestling with what to do about those already here illegally, with most Republicans reluctant to endorse citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants but also shying away from suggestions of deportation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Exclusive: U.S. Air Force sees no wrongdoing by Booz Allen in Snowden matter By Andrea Shalal-Esa | Reuters – 1 hour 8 minutes ago By Andrea Shalal-Esa WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force said it sees no evidence that a defense contractor that employed Edward Snowden is responsible for his disclosure of classified U.S. information, a finding that allows the company to continue doing business with the Pentagon.Snowden, who is wanted in the United States on espionage charges, revealed details of secret government surveillance programs. He is believed to be holed up in the transit area at a Moscow airport, where he arrived on June 23 from Hong Kong.The Air Force said Booz Allen Hamilton, also known as BAH, notified it about the Snowden case as required under an administrative agreement signed after another ethics lapse in 2012.”At this time … there is no evidence that at the time of Mr. Snowden’s misconduct, BAH knew or should have known, approved, or acquiesced in Snowden’s misconduct,” an Air Force official told Reuters.”There is no evidence that the Snowden matter constitutes a reoccurrence of the practices that led to the Air Force proposing BAH for debarment,” the official said. „To date, the Air Force … is satisfied with BAH’s efforts to improve it ethics and compliance programs, and its internal controls.”Booz Allen Hamilton generated $5.76 billion in revenues, mainly through government work, in the year ended March 31, a drop of just under 2 percent from the year earlier. This is the first government agency to clear Booz Allen’s handling of the Snowden case.James Fisher, spokesman for Booz Allen, said the company had complied fully with its agreement with the Air Force, which requires notification of any further ethics incidents.”Edward Snowden’s actions were shocking and represented a grave violation of Booz Allen’s code of conduct and core values. As a result, he was immediately dismissed by the firm,” Fisher said. He said the company could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation of Snowden.In 2012, the Air Force proposed banning the San Antonio office of Booz Allen and several current and former employees from bidding for new government work after an incident in which a new employee hired from the Air Force shared sensitive data about a pending government procurement.The company was taken off the government’s „excluded parties list” in April 2012, allowing it to compete again for Air Force contracts, after it signed a sweeping administrative agreement which will be in effect for three years.In the 12-page agreement, the company acknowledged that the incident had revealed „ethical deficiencies and questionable business practices that may be systemic in nature” and outlined a series of measures aimed at shoring up its compliance.Any further ethics violations could allow the Air Force to invalidate the agreement and ban Booz Allen from further government contracts, but such action appears unlikely, Air Force officials said.The Air Force said it had suspended Snowden from contracting with the federal government, or from receiving other federal financial benefits, on June 11.On Capitol Hill, lawmakers have called into question the vetting done by another private contractor, USIS, that allowed Snowden to receive top-secret clearance and secure a systems administrator job with Booz Allen, where he worked out of a National Security Agency facility in Hawaii.Snowden has said he joined Booz Allen in March to gain access to certain confidential government documents. Prior to that, he had done NSA work as an employee of Dell.Booz Allen is due to submit its latest quarterly report on ethics controls to the Air Force this month, the Air Force official said.The Air Force continues to monitor the company’s handling of the Snowden matter, which is being investigated by the FBI.(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Stacey Joyce)
Accused Boston Marathon bomber pleads ‘not guilty’ to attack By Scott Malone and Daniel Lovering | Reuters – 4 hours ago By Scott Malone and Daniel Lovering BOSTON (Reuters) – Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, with his arm in a cast, accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded „not guilty” to committing the worst mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, a crime that could bring him the death penalty.Appearing in court for the first time, the 19-year-old ethnic Chechen – a naturalized U.S. citizen – spoke clearly, answering seven times that he was „not guilty” and occasionally glancing back at the gallery, where survivors and victims’ relatives were watching.Tsarnaev is charged with killing three people and injuring about 264 others by setting off homemade bombs – pressure-cookers filled with explosives, nails and ball bearings – assembled by him and his older brother, Tamerlan. Prosecutors say the brothers placed backpacks containing the bombs among the spectators near the finish line of the race on April 15.Several days later, in the suburb of Watertown, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was killed in a shootout, during which 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after his brother ran over him with car as he escaped. The ensuing manhunt resulted in a day-long lockdown of most of the Boston area until Dzhokhar was found, badly wounded, hiding in a boat in a backyard.Tsarnaev’s appearance in the federal courtroom on Wednesday was the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest on April 19. His hair was long and unruly, his left arm in a cast and the orange jumpsuit, unbuttoned to the waist, revealed a black T-shirt underneath.He fidgeted, scratched his face and looked around the courtroom, watching prosecutors as they spoke and occasionally looking back at about 30 survivors of the attack and victims’ families.”He didn’t seem too shaken up by this. He didn’t seem affected one bit, but I’m not a mind reader,” said John DiFava, chief of the MIT police department, who attended the proceeding.Tsarnaev is also charged in the shooting death of 27-year-old police officer Sean Collier.DEATH PENALTY–The biggest challenge for Tsarnaev’s attorney, public defender Miriam Conrad, will be sparing him the death penalty, observers said.Security was tighter than usual on Wednesday outside Boston’s U.S. District Courthouse, which is also the site of the ongoing murder and racketeering trial of mob boss James „Whitey” Bulger, now in its fifth week.A handful of Tsarnaev supporters were outside and a few attended the proceeding.”It was a little heartbreaking, but Dzhokhar and I have faith in Allah,” said one supporter, Mary Churbuck, who wore a shirt with Dzhokhar’s image and the slogan „Free the Lion.””He’s rolling with the punches,” Churbuck said. „There’s no evidence that he did do it. They don’t have any evidence of him putting his backpack down.”According to court papers, Tsarnaev scrawled a note on an inside wall and beams of the boat in which he hid.”The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians,” the note read, according to the papers. „We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.””Now I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said it is allowed,” he wrote, according to court papers. „Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”Three people died in the April 15 bombing – 29-year-old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23; and 8-year-old Martin Richard. MIT police officer Collier was killed three days later, according to the indictment.Prosecutors said the government planned to call between 80 and 100 witnesses and that the trial would likely last three to four months. A status hearing was scheduled for September 23.(Additional reporting by Stephanie Simon; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Gunna Dickson)
Mexican president says possible U.S. spying ‘totally unacceptable’ By Reuters – 15 minutes ago MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Wednesday that if allegations were proven that the United States had spied on its southern neighbor, it would be „totally unacceptable.”During a visit to northern Mexico, Pena Nieto was asked for his views on a media report that the U.S. National Security Agency had spied on countries including Mexico.”We have asked quite clearly, via the foreign ministry … for an explanation from the government … about possible spying,” he told reporters in the border state of Chihuahua.”And we want to know if this is the case, and if it so, it would obviously be totally unacceptable,” he added, noting that relations with Washington remained cordial.Claims that the NSA monitored internet traffic, especially in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico, were made in a Brazilian newspaper citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a fugitive former NSA contractor.Earlier, Mexico’s foreign ministry said it had asked Washington for an explanation about the report in the paper O Globo.Separately, the Mexican government responded to a media report alleging that the prior administration had signed a contract in 2007 allowing the United States to install a system to monitor phone and internet communications in Mexico.”The Attorney General is reviewing the documentation regarding this apparent agreement. We are going to verify if it exists and under what conditions,” said Eduardo Sanchez, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.Emilio Gamboa, the Senate leader of Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, said the contract allegations needed to be thoroughly investigated.”Friendship is made by cooperation, not by spying on us,” Gamboa told reporters in Mexico City.Former President Felipe Calderon, who left office last year, worked closely with the United States on security as he waged a bloody battle against Mexico’s drug cartels that has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives since the start of 2007.(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Eric Beech)
Egypt’s new rulers escalate crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood, ordering arrest of its leadersmBy Maggie Michael And Sarah El Deeb, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 3 hours ago
CAIRO – Egypt’s military-backed government tightened a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday, ordering the arrest of its revered leader in a bid to choke off the group’s campaign to reinstate President Mohammed Morsi one week after an army-led coup. The Brotherhood denounced the warrants for the arrest of Mohammed Badie and nine other leading Islamists for inciting violence Monday that left dozens dead, saying „dictatorship is back” and vowing it will never work with the interim rulers.Leaders of the Brotherhood are believed to be taking refuge somewhere near a continuing sit-in by its supporters at the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo, but it is not clear if Badie also is there.The Brotherhood is outraged by the overthrow of Morsi, one of its own, and demands nothing less than his release from detention and his reinstatement as president.Security agencies have already jailed five leaders of the Brotherhood, including Badie’s powerful deputy, Khairat el-Shaiter, and shut down its media outlets.The prosecutor general’s office said Badie, another deputy, Mahmoud Ezzat, senior member Mohammed El-Beltagy and popular preacher Safwat Hegazy are suspected of instigating the clashes with security forces outside a Republican Guard building near the mosque that killed 54 people — most of them Morsi supporters — in the worst bloodshed since he was ousted.The Islamists have accused the troops of gunning down protesters, while the military blamed armed backers of Morsi for attempting to storm a military building.The warrants highlight the armed forces’ zero-tolerance policy toward the Brotherhood, which was banned under authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.”This just signals that dictatorship is back,” said Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref. „We are returning to what is worse than Mubarak’s regime, which wouldn’t dare to issue an arrest warrant of the general leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.”The Brotherhood’s refusal to work with the new interim leaders underscored the difficulties they face in trying to stabilize Egypt and bridge the deep fissures that have opened in the country during Morsi’s year in office.Morsi has not been seen since the July 3 coup, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Atti gave the first official word on him in days, saying he is in a safe place and is being treated in a „very dignified manner.” No charges have been levelled against him, Abdel-Atti said.”For his own safety and for the safety of the country, it is better to keep him. … Otherwise, consequences will be dire,” he added.Badie had appeared at the Rabaa al-Adawiya rally Friday, a day after an earlier arrest warrant against him was issued, also accusing him of inciting violence. On Wednesday night, he delivered a message to the crowd through a senior Brotherhood leader, an indication that he didn’t want to make an appearance and endanger his security.He spoke of Monday’s violence, calling the troops that carried it out „traitors.””They didn’t just betray their people … their leader (Morsi), but they also betrayed God,” said Abdel-Rahman el-Bar, a Brotherhood leader, reading from Badie’s message.He urged supporters to stay camped out in the sit-in and mosques, using the holy month of Ramadan to pray for Morsi’s deliverance. Badie also sought to dismiss accusations that his group used violence.”The Muslim Brotherhood has struggled for Egypt’s freedom from occupation and oppression. It was and will remain faithful to its promises and peaceful in its positions,” the message said.On Friday, Badie had delivered a fiery speech at the rally in person, telling those in the crowd that they will bring Morsi back to the palace on their shoulders.”We are his soldiers. We defend him with our lives,” Badie said before disappearing.Following the speech, thousands of Islamists marched and clashed with Morsi opponents in the heart of Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, leaving more than 30 dead and 200 injured.In one of the most dramatic instances of violence that day, two Morsi opponents were killed when they were pushed off a roof by supporters of the ousted president in the second-largest city of Alexandria. Hamada Badr was stabbed and thrown off the roof, his father said. According to amateur video accessed by The Associated Press, a second man was hurled to his death and Morsi supporters were seen beating his lifeless body. The video appeared consistent with AP’s reporting from the area.Since then, both sides appeared to be running a campaign of fear. The military and supportive media have depicted the Brotherhood and its backers as promoting violence and endangering national security. The Brotherhood and pro-Morsi protesters have portrayed Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as head of a „militia” that is seeking to annihilate Islamists, waging a fight akin to the civil war in Syria.News of the arrest warrants did not surprise the protesters, who saw the move as an attempt to pressure the group’s leadership to end the demonstration.”We expected it,” said Ayman el-Ashmawi. „Even if they arrest the biggest number of Muslim Brotherhood members, we want to say that the Muslim Brotherhood will leave this square only over our dead bodies — or the return of Dr. Mohammed Morsi.”Fathi Abdel-Wahab, a bearded protester in his 30s, said he and the others at the rally had legitimacy on their side.”We will sacrifice ourselves and we will continue because we have a clear cause. We will defend it peacefully. … We will never accept the military’s coup,” he said as he rested inside a tent near a group of people reciting verses from the Qur’an.After a week of violence and mass demonstrations, Egyptians were hoping that Wednesday’s start of Ramadan would calm the streets. The sunrise-to-sunset fast cuts down on daytime activity, although there were fears of unrest at night.Late Wednesday, gunmen in a pickup truck opened fire on the convoy of a top military commander, Gen. Ahmed Wasfi, in the Sinai town of Rafah, near the border with Gaza, drawing fire from the accompanying troops, security officials said. Wasfi escaped unharmed, but a 5-year-old girl was killed in the clashes, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. One gunman was arrested.Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Morsi supporters protested late Wednesday outside the presidential palace, where his opponents have continued to hold their ground, even after his ouster. Under heavy military guard, the pro-Morsi demonstrators chanted against el-Sissi, the defence minister, shouting, „What el-Sissi? We stepped over bigger shots.” Some protesters formed a human chain to draw a line between them and the troops. After less than hour, they left the area peacefully.The military-backed interim president, Adly Mansour, issued a fast-track timetable Monday for the transition. His declaration set out a seven-month timetable for elections but also a truncated, temporary constitution laying out the division of powers.The accelerated process was meant, in part, to reassure the U.S. and other Western allies that Egypt is on a path toward democratic leadership. But it has faced opposition from the very groups that led the four days of mass protests that prompted the military to remove Morsi.The top liberal political group, the National Salvation Front, expressed reservations over the plan, saying it was not consulted. The Front said the declaration „lacks significant clauses while others need change or removal,” but did not elaborate.The secular, revolutionary youth movement Tamarod that organized the massive anti-Morsi demonstrations also criticized the plan, in part because it gives too much power to Mansour, including the authority to issue laws. A post-Morsi plan put forward by Tamarod called for a largely ceremonial interim president with most power in the hands of the prime minister.At the heart of liberals’ objections is that they wanted to remove broadly worded articles that Morsi’s allies introduced into the constitution, giving Islamic laws a greater weight. They objected that at least one of those clauses remained in Mansour’s declaration. Other objections centred on powers of the interim president.The only Islamist party that backed military’s ouster of Morsi has been vetoing any rewriting of the constitution.New Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who was appointed Tuesday by Mansour, is holding consultations on a Cabinet. In what is seen as an attempt at reconciliation, el-Beblawi has said he will offer the Brotherhood, which helped propel Morsi to the presidency, posts in his transitional government.A Brotherhood spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his security said the group will not take part in an interim Cabinet, and that talk of national reconciliation under the current circumstances is „irrelevant.”The nascent government also will soon face demands that it tackle economic woes that mounted under Morsi, including fuel shortages, electricity cutoffs and inflation.Kuwait joined other Gulf nations in offering financial aid to the new leadership, saying it would give a package worth $4 billion. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — both opponents of Morsi’s Brotherhood — promised the cash-strapped Egyptian government $8 billion in grants, loans and badly needed gas and oil.The donations effectively step in for Morsi’s Gulf patron, Qatar, a close ally of the Brotherhood that gave his government several billion in aid during his year in office._Associated Press Writer Tony G. Gabriel contributed to this report
Unmanned jet lands aboard U.S. Navy carrier in historic first By David Alexander | Reuters – 4 hours ago By David Alexander ABOARD THE USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (Reuters) – An unmanned U.S. jet carried out a maneuver on Wednesday long considered the most challenging in naval aviation – landing aboard an aircraft carrier – in a milestone that lifted expectations about basing drones with reconnaissance and strike capabilities on ships.A Northrop Grumman X-47B aircraft nicknamed „Salty Dog 502″ slipped out of a cloudy sky off the Virginia coast after a flight from Patuxent River Naval Air Station and dropped its tailhook to snag an arresting cable on the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush sailing in the Atlantic Ocean.”It’s not often that you get a chance to see the future, but that’s what we got to do today,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who witnessed the landing and likened it to the first manned aircraft landing on a carrier a century ago.The achievement came as the Navy mulls the role that new ship-carried drones may play in the future for the U.S. military, while some experts question whether these unmanned aircraft are needed by the Navy at all.The Salty Dog is one of two experimental X-47B aircraft built by Northrop Grumman as part of a program to test the feasibility of integrating unmanned aircraft into carrier operations, which program director Rear Admiral Mat Winter called „the most dynamic and demanding” environment in the Navy.The X-47Bs will be retired to flight museums in Florida and Maryland after completing a minimum of three arrested landings aboard a carrier in the coming week, officials said.In their place, the Navy has started the follow-on UCLASS program to design and build unmanned reconnaissance and strike aircraft to be deployed aboard carriers in the coming three to six years.The start of the UCLASS program with a Navy request for proposed designs from Northrop, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics earlier this month has touched off a debate over exactly what the new drone should be and what missions it should take on.With a stealthy bat-wing air frame, a 2,000-mile (3,200-km) range and the ability to carry the equivalent of two precision-guided bombs, the X-47B raised the prospects of a long-range, radar-evading, unmanned reconnaissance and strike aircraft.A carrier-based drone with those capabilities could be used to counter countries like China and Iran that have been developing missiles and other weapons aimed at forcing the U.S. Navy to operate far from shore in a conflict.‘TYRANNOSAURUS REX ARMS’-Peter Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security at the Brookings Institution think tank, likened the threat to „facing a boxer with really long arms when you’ve got little Tyrannosaurus Rex arms.””The idea is you could utilize the UCLASS (carrier drone program) to extend your reach,” he said.The Navy’s request for proposed designs appeared less ambitious than some analysts had expected. Rather than seeking proposals for a radar-evading jet with a robust strike capability, the request called for a long-range reconnaissance aircraft able to stay on station for extended periods, Navy officials said.With the focus on affordability, the drone would not necessarily be able to evade radar – potentially leaving it vulnerable to enemy fire – and it would have only a light attack capability.Some experts say it is not clear that the Navy needs a carrier-based drone.They note that such an aircraft’s main strength is the ability to remain over a target area for long periods of time looking for potential threats like mobile missile launchers. Land-based drones can provide that capability as effectively as sea-based ones, they say.”When it comes to operating an unmanned aircraft from carrier decks, the Navy seems to be ambivalent about the whole idea,” said Loren Thompson, a defense expert at the Lexington Institute think tank.He said the Navy needs to conduct a rigorous assessment to see what UCLASS drones would bring to the fleet that cannot be accomplished with manned aircraft or land-based drones.”Can we fly drones off of aircraft carriers? Yes we can. Is there a good reason for doing so? That’s not as clear,” Thompson said.(Editing by Will Dunham)
San Diego mayor accused of sexual harassment
View galleryFILE – This Nov. 7, 2012 file photo shows San Diego Mayor Bob Filner smiling during a news conference at a park in San Diego. A prominent onetime supporter of Mayor Filner is calling for him to resign after less than a year in office amid allegations that he sexually harassed women. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File) ELLIOT SPAGAT 1 hour agoPolitics SAN DIEGO (AP) — A prominent onetime supporter of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner urged him to resign Wednesday less than a year after taking office amid allegations that he sexually harassed women.Radio and television station KPBS obtained a letter to Filner from former Councilwoman Donna Frye that said she recently received „credible evidence” that the mayor harassed more than one woman. She asked that the City Council schedule a special election to replace him.Frye, a fellow Democrat who once came within a whisker of being elected mayor in a write-in campaign, is highly regarded among Filner’s liberal base and served as the mayor’s director of open government for several months until resigning for a position at Californians Aware, a group that advocates for open government.”Those who have spoken to me recently would not make the allegations lightly or without cause, and I believe them,” Frye wrote. „I cannot in good conscience remain silent on this, even if those who have spoken to me choose to do so out of fear of retribution or the possibility of a media circus where they could be twice victimized.”Frye, who didn’t immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press, was scheduled to appear at a news conference Thursday. Marco Gonzalez, an attorney who has worked closely with her on many issues, confirmed that she wrote the letter, which was posted on KPBS’ website (http://bit.ly/1b0Qnbg).KPBS reported that Frye made clear in an interview that she was not harassed by Filner, a 70-year-old divorcee.The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Frye’s call for the mayor to resign came two days after Filner’s fiance, Bronwyn Ingram, announced in an email to her team of volunteers that she was breaking the engagement.”I am extremely disappointed and heartbroken, both for what Team First Lady could have accomplished, and for me, personally; however, this is the only action I can take given the devolvement of our personal relationship,” Ingram wrote.Gonzalez also called for Filner to resign and planned to appear with Frye at Thursday’s news conference.”At our recent meeting I was of the impression that you understood the gravity of the circumstances surrounding your treatment of staff, and in particular, the women who work for you in the Office of the Mayor,” he wrote.Frye lost a write-in campaign for mayor in 2004 only because several thousand voters who wrote her name on the ballot failed to darken the adjoining ovals. If those ballots were counted, she would have unseated Republican Dick Murphy, who later resigned amid a scandal over city finances.Filner was elected San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years in November after 10 terms in Congress.
Back to negotiations after student loan plan fails
View gallery PHILIP ELLIOTT 2 hours agoPoliticsEducationStudent loan WASHINGTON (AP) — The defeat of a student loan bill in the Senate on Wednesday clears the way for fresh negotiations to restore lower rates, but lawmakers are racing the clock before millions of students return to campus next month to find borrowing terms twice as high as when school let out.Republicans and a few Democrats blocked a White House-backed proposal that would have restored 3.4 percent interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for one more year. The failed stopgap measure was designed to give lawmakers time to take up comprehensive college affordability legislation and dodge 6.8 percent interest rates on new loans.Without congressional action in the coming weeks, the increase could mean an extra $2,600 for an average student returning to campus this fall, according to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.”Let’s just extend this for one year. I don’t think that’s too much to ask,” said Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.It proved too much for a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. They favored a compromise now and joined with Republicans in using a procedural roadblock to stop the one-year patch.”This plan merely kicks the can down the road for 12 more months,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who worked with Manchin and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, on a deal that linked interest rates to financial markets. „We’re going to vote on a 3.4 percent extension, kicking the can down the road and not finding a solution,”The Senate vote was 51-49, nine votes short of the 60 votes needed to move forward.The Republican-favored plan that Manchin helped to write was not considered for a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate.But that proposal was the subject of an evening session among leaders from both parties about next steps. That session in Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin’s office included liberal lawmakers, including Harkin, who previously refused to consider the Manchin-led proposal..”View galleryProspective students and their parents tour Georgetown University’s campus in Washington, Wednesday, …The talks could yield a compromise that could be announced as early as Thursday.Without serious negotiations between the parties and without an agreement within a fractured Democratic caucus, students would face higher costs when they begin repaying their loans after graduation. Lawmakers pledged to return to negotiations to avert that, and aides were gauging what was possible given the narrow window before Congress breaks again for the August recess.”Today our nation’s students once again wait in vain for relief,” said Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. „They expected more of us and I share their disappointment.””Today, we failed. And our nation’s students pay the cost of that failure,” he added after the vote.The failure to win a one-year approval, combined with little interest in such a deal in the Republican-led House, meant that unless Congress tries again, students could be borrowing money for fall courses at a rate leaders in both parties called unacceptably high.Officials said Wednesday’s vote would not be the final word on student loans and that it would nudge members from both parties back to the negotiating table. Even those who favored an extension said they were not inflexible.Harkin, for instance, said he was not wedded to 3.4 percent interest rates forever and was open to a different approach, as long as profits from student lending weren’t used as a way to pay down the nation’s deficit.A Harkin ally said compromise is possible if Republicans are willing to yield as well.”I will continue to work hard to reverse this senseless rate hike,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who helped push extension measures. „Ultimately, we’ll need a bipartisan solution, but first Congress will have to do its homework. Republicans will have to come to the table and agree to address the bigger picture of college affordability in a meaningful and comprehensive way.”.”View gallerySenate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. rides an escalator on Capitol in …Both Harkin and Reed met with Durbin, a member of Democrats’ leadership team, during the meeting late Wednesday.The administration said the earlier vote would not inevitably consign students to higher rates.”I wish we would have got this done before July 1 but I remain very optimistic that we’re going to get to a better place for students,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.”We’re going to get it done sooner than later,” he told reporters at a department event about summer reading.Interest rates on student loans doubled to 6.8 percent July 1 because Congress didn’t act. After Wednesday’s vote, the political sparring continued.”Today’s vote is just another example of how out of touch Republicans in Congress are with the struggles of everyday American families,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.Rep. John Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, similarly blamed Democrats.”Right now, millions of students trying to prepare for college and apply for financial aid are facing higher interest rates – all because a cadre of Senate Democrats is completely unwilling to compromise,” said Kline, R-Minn.The rate increase does not affect many students right away. Loan documents generally are signed just before students return to campus, and few students returned to school over the July Fourth holiday. Existing loans were not affected, either..”View gallerySenate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., left, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., righ …During last year’s presidential campaign, lawmakers from both parties voted to keep interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent. Yet this year, without a presidential election looming, the issue seemed to fizzle and the July 1 deadline passed without action.”It’s like ‘Groundhog Day,’ trying to fix this problem again,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.The White House and most Democratic senators favored keeping the rates at 3.4 percent for now and including an overhaul of federal student loans in the Higher Education Act rewrite lawmakers expect to take up this fall.The House has passed legislation that links interest rates to financial markets. House Republicans were opposed to a one-year extension, meaning the Senate vote might not have fared well with them.”Republicans acted to protect students from higher interest rates and make college more affordable, yet Senate Democratic leaders let student loan interest rates double without passing any legislation to address the issue,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the vote.The leader of one young adult advocacy group was more direct in his criticism.”The White House and Congress seem to be competing with each other over who can screw over students worse,” said Evan Feinberg, president of the nonpartisan Generation Opportunity. „And Senate Democrats are clearly winning.”__Associated Press writer Shaquille Brewster contributed to this report._Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott
Infighting threatens Egypt transition plan, army orders arrests Yasmine Saleh and Mike Collett-White 2 hours agoPoliticsMuslim BrotherhoodEgyptHosni MubarakView galleryA poster of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is seen as his supporters wait to break fast on …By Yasmine Saleh and Mike Collett-White CAIRO (Reuters) – Political infighting threatened to stall Egypt’s transition plans on Thursday, as the military cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood leaders it blames for inciting a clash in Cairo in which troops shot and killed 53 protesters.Monday’s violence between supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader toppled by the army last week, and soldiers at a military compound has opened deep fissures in the Arab world’s most populous country.On Wednesday, Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and several other senior Islamists, evoking memories of when the movement was repressed under autocratic former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in 2011.Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood called for protest marches on Friday, when noon prayers are held in mosques, raising the risk of more violence after fighting between rival factions swept Egypt last week and killed 35 people.Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said the leaders had not been arrested and some were still attending a protest vigil at Rabaa Adawiya mosque, where thousands of supporters have camped out for the past two weeks despite punishing heat.He said the charges against them of inciting violence were „nothing more than an attempt by the police state to dismantle the Rabaa protest.””What can we do?” he asked. „In a police state, when the police force are criminals, the judiciary are traitors and the investigators are the fabricators, what can one do?”Egypt’s 84 million people are increasingly divided between those who rallied on June 30 to demand Mursi’s resignation and angry Islamists who say their democratic rights have been crushed in what they call a military coup.Separately, the youth-led Tamarud group, which coordinated the mass protests against Mursi centered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, invited its followers to rally there, also on Friday, in a festive celebration of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.Ramadan, normally a time of celebration, falls this year under the dark shadow of a crisis that has left Egyptian society more divided than at any time in its modern history.The situation in Cairo and other cities has calmed significantly since last week’s protests and Monday’s clash in which four security personnel were also killed.Hazem el-Beblawi, the interim prime minister, told Reuters he expects the transitional cabinet to be in place early next week as he seeks to implement the military-backed „road map” that envisages new parliamentary elections in about six months.Beblawi acknowledged that it will be a challenge to find a cabinet line-up with universal support. „I don’t believe that anything can have unanimous approval,” he said.The economist has indicated he would be open to offering cabinet posts to Islamists, including Muslim Brotherhood figures. The Muslim Brotherhood says it will have nothing to do with a government of what it calls a fascist coup.WORDING OF A NEW CONSTITUTION–Another potential stumbling block in a political process vital to restoring stability is wrangling among Islamist and liberal parties over the wording of a new constitution, in particular articles defining the role of Islamic sharia law.The liberal National Salvation Front may be willing to compromise in order to prevent further delays to the process, a senior party leader said.The unrest after Mursi’s ouster on July 3, initially greeted with jubilation by hundreds of thousands of people across the sprawling capital, has alarmed Western donors and Israel, which has a 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.The United States, treading a careful line, has neither welcomed Mursi’s removal nor denounced it as a coup. Under U.S. law, a coup would require the United States to halt aid, including the $1.3 billion it gives the army each year.The Brotherhood’s downfall has been warmly welcomed by three of the rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf, who showered Cairo with aid to prop up the collapsing economy.Kuwait promised Egypt $4 billion in cash, loans and fuel on Wednesday, a day after Saudi Arabia pledged $5 billion and the United Arab Emirates offered $3 billion.In the early hours of Thursday, several hundred Islamist protesters marched to the presidential palace. Demonstrators and police remained calm and the two sides engaged in conversation.”It is our right to say we don’t acknowledge the military coup,” said one of the protesters, addressing soldiers outside the palace in a good-natured exchange.Both sides in Egypt have become more anti-American in recent weeks. Mursi’s opponents say President Barack Obama’s administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood in power, while Mursi’s supporters believe Washington was behind the plot to unseat him.”Obama supports democracy, but only if it goes to those who aren’t Islamists,” the heavily bearded El-Sayyed Abdel Rabennabi said at the Rabaa vigil.On Tahrir Square, the animosity appears just as fierce.”America made an alliance with the Brotherhood against the Egyptian people,” said Tawfiq Munir, waving a placard reading „We are the coup” at one recent rally there.”Now the Brotherhood are fighting us in the streets, fighting to take back power, and America is sitting on the fence,” said the aircraft mechanic.(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz, Maggie Fick, Mike Collett-White, Tom Perry, Peter Graff, Yasmine Saleh, Ali Saed, Seham el-Oraby and Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Will Dunham)
Portugal president wants ‘salvation’ deal, including opposition Shrikesh Laxmidas and Daniel Alvarenga 4 hours agoPoliticsPortugalPaulo PortasView galleryPortugal’s President Anibal Cavaco Silva addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, June 12, 2013. …By Shrikesh Laxmidas and Daniel Alvarenga LISBON (Reuters) – President Anibal Cavaco Silva proposed an urgent cross-party agreement between the ruling coalition and opposition Socialists on Wednesday to ensure Portugal can complete adjustments under a bailout by June 2014 before holding early elections.Cavaco Silva said the coalition government remains in office and made no clear statement about a proposed cabinet reshuffle by the ruling Social Democrats and their junior coalition partner, the rightist CDS-PP party, to end an internal rift.He did not specify whether the reshuffle, which would need his approval, would take place.The president said a cross-party deal would have to include a calendar for early elections, whose preparation must coincide with Portugal’s planned exit from the bailout in June 2014. If the government were to complete its term, the next elections would be held in late 2015.”The commitment must involve the three parties, all of which signed the bailout deal, to support measures for Portugal to return to the markets in early 2014 and complete the adjustment program,” he said in a televised address.commitment of national salvation,” he added.Cavaco Silva said the deal could be reached quickly, possibly with the help of a prestigious personality to promote dialogue.The rift in the coalition emerged last week after the resignation of CDS-PP leader Paulo Portas as foreign minister and has threatened to derail progress under the 78-billion-euro ($100.3-billion) bailout by the European Union and IMF.Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho had proposed to promote Portas to become his deputy in a bid to end the crisis.The president’s proposal could prolong uncertainty as it was not the simple approval that had been expected of the cabinet reshuffle.UNEXPECTED DECISION ADDS UNCERTAINTY -The yield on Portugal’s 10-year bonds jumped to over 8 percent last week from around 6.4 percent but had settled back as the coalition tried to end the crisis.”Given the expected scenario of a mere cabinet reshuffle and nothing more, the solution proposed by the president seems to cause greater political instability, which could be received badly by markets,” said Filipe Garcia, the head of Informacao Mercados Financeiros consultants in Porto.Bank of Portugal Governor Carlos Costa earlier on Wednesday warned parties that „accidents” like the political crisis are likely to cause „hyper-reactions in markets.Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, warned Lisbon on Monday that more upheaval could upset its efforts to complete the bailout program.Representatives of the troika of lenders – the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF – were due to land in Lisbon on July 15 to conduct the eighth quarterly review of the program.The Socialists had urged the president to call a snap election, but he has so far declined to do so.Cavaco Silva said that holding a snap election would have delayed approving the 2014 state budget until March, increasing the risk of Portugal being forced to request a second bailout program.”A new program would likely be more demanding and have harder conditions than the current one, with direct and dramatic effects in families’ daily lives,” he said.Massive tax hikes and spending cuts under terms of the bailout have pushed Portugal into its deepest economic slump since the 1970s and boosted unemployment to record levels near 18 percent.The Social Democrats and the CDS-PP said they would consider the president’s proposals before responding. Cavaco Silva said he will contact the three parties to analyze the solution.(Additional reporting by Sergio Goncalves, editing by Axel Bugge, Michael Roddy and Cynthia Osterman)