July 9, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's hardest sell in his renewed push to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may be members of his own party - moderate Senate Democrats facing tough re-election bids next year in the strongly Republican South. Obama has stepped up the pressure to shutter the naval facility, driven in part by his revised counterterrorism strategy and the four-month-old stain of the government's force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strikes to prevent them from starving to death.
June 28, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The dramatic Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage is forcing Republican leaders to cope, in bright daylight, with something they would rather handle discreetly: the careful balance between placating their conservative base and reaching out to centrist voters crucial in presidential elections. Top GOP leaders showed notable restraint this week, while conservative activists fulminated against the court's decision, which requires the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage.
May 25, 2013 |
The Internal Revenue Service official responsible for the office that targeted certain organizations seeking tax-exempt status was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, making her the second senior official to be disciplined in the scandal. Lois Lerner is the director of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division and was the first agency official to publicly acknowledge that employees inappropriately targeted certain conservative-leaning organizations. The IRS did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday evening.
May 10, 2013 |
LET'S FACE FACTS, the judges on "American Idol" do less actual judging than the "judges" at Philadelphia Traffic Court. Their purpose is to cheerlead and create drama and give viewers some name recognition to latch on to while they learn the names of the new batch of karaoke singers. Judging chemistry is hard to duplicate, and "American Idol" has been floundering around since the original trio of Simon Cowell , Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson , mixing in Kara DioGuardi , Ellen DeGeneres , Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler before adding this year's newbies.
May 9, 2013
An agreement with Russia to renew efforts to negotiate peace in Syria bolsters President Obama's argument that now is not the time for a U.S. military role in the conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Tuesday in Moscow that an international summit would be held as early as this month to revive a plan that would effectively end Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule. The announcement blunts the hawks' harsh criticism of Obama for backing away from his hasty declaration eight months ago that any use of chemical weapons by Assad would cross a "red line," leading to "enormous consequences.
April 30, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons could be a greater threat after that nation's president leaves power and could end up targeting Americans at home, lawmakers warned Sunday as they considered a U.S. response that stops short of sending military forces there. U.S. officials last week declared that the Syrian government probably had used chemical weapons twice in March, newly provocative acts in the two-year civil war that has killed more than 70,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
April 27, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration said Thursday that the Syrian government had likely used chemical weapons on a small scale against its own people, but it stopped short of threatening military action against President Bashar al-Assad. In a letter to lawmakers, the White House said U.S. intelligence agencies "assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin. " Despite the caveats, the disclosure puts President Obama under new pressure to respond because it is the first time that the United States has joined other countries in suggesting that the Assad government is likely to have deployed chemical weapons over the course of the two-year-old Syrian civil war. A senior administration official acknowledged that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross the "red line" declared by Obama many times in recent months in warnings to Assad.
April 26, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Excerpts of the letter sent to Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D., Mich.), by Miguel E. Rodriguez, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Legislative Affairs: Thank you for your letter of April 24 regarding the situation in Syria and the allegations of chemical weapons use there. I am responding on behalf of the president and want to offer a prompt response to your question: "Has the Assad regime - or Syrian elements associated with, or supported by, the Assad regime - used chemical weapons in Syria since the current conflict began in March 2011?"
April 23, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Democratic supporters of a new immigration bill accused opponents Monday of trying to "exploit" the Boston Marathon bombings to hold up the legislation, sparking a testy exchange at a Senate hearing. "I never said that! I never said that!" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) interjected as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), a lead author of the bill, criticized "those who are pointing to what happened, the terrible tragedy in Boston, as a, I would say, excuse for not doing a bill or delaying it. " Schumer said he wasn't talking about Grassley, who said last week that the bombings, allegedly carried out by two immigrant brothers, raised questions about gaps in the U.S. immigration system that should be examined in the context of the new bill.
April 22, 2013
By Robert Menendez As a member of the Senate bipartisan Gang of Eight reflecting on our introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill this past week, I'm reminded of the Chinese proverb that says, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. " Reaching an agreement on immigration reform is that "step," an extraordinary milestone, and I'm proud to have been part of it. This legislation fixes our broken immigration system, secures our national borders, helps the American economy, and preserves our history as a nation of immigrants.