• What does the political wrangling over a one-lane gravel road through 10 miles of a remote Alaskan wildlife refuge tell us about President Barack Obama’s influence with Congress? Plenty, as it turns out.

    Inside the Beltway, reporters and political players have been consumed with trying to gauge the prospects for Obama's second-term agenda in light of his defeat in the fight over a bipartisan bill to enhance background checks of would-be gun buyers. Can he twist arms? Can he cut deals? Is Congress immune to his charms and his threats?

    On Monday, the New York Times' analysis was that the president lacks “an appetite for ruthless politics that instills fear in lawmakers.” Exhibit A, the Times said: Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska asked Obama to send newly minted Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to his home state to help get the road approved. Begich voted against the gun bill, but Jewell is still going. The rebellious senator still gets what he wants from the wobbly White House.

    Case closed? Not so much. A closer look at Jewell’s trip also teaches a very different lesson, providing evidence of a president cutting deals with recalcitrant lawmakers to get what he wants. And then keeping his end of the bargain.

    Read More »from What does an obscure Alaska road project say about Obama’s clout?
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev waits for a decision during the 2009 Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions on May 4, 2009. (Glenn DePriest/Getty Images)The immigration status of the Boston bombings suspects may become a stumbling block for a new bill that seeks to legalize nearly 11 million immigrants and increase the number of legal immigrants to the United States.

    Opponents of the bill—which was crafted by a bipartisan "Gang of Eight" in the Senate—and even some supporters, say the process of reforming the country's immigration system should be stalled until all the facts about the suspects' interactions with the immigration system are known.

    Both Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombings, emigrated to the United States legally from Russia as refugees a decade ago when they were children. The Tsarnaev family, which is ethnically Chechen, was granted asylum because it feared persecution in its home country, according to media reports.

    Tamerlan's application for citizenship was put on hold in 2012 by the government, because he had been questioned by the FBI at the request of the Russian government for possible ties to Chechen terrorism, the New York Times reported. Dzhokhar's citizenship application was approved, and he naturalized in 2012.

    At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing over the bill on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended immigration officials' handling of the Tsarnaevs, saying the process for granting asylum is rigorous.

    "In the past four years we have increased both the number and the coverage of the vetting that goes on," Napolitano said. As things currently stand, she noted, those who seek asylum must go through multiple screening interviews and submit biometric data to be checked across government databases. If granted asylum and legal status, immigrants must go through two more interviews if they want to become citizens when they become eligible five years later.

    (Asylum applicants must show that they face government-sanctioned persecution in their home country stemming from their race, religion, nationality, political views or membership in a particular social group.)

    Napolitano argued that the immigration reform bill would make the country safer because the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country would be brought "out of the shadows" and screened. The bill requires immigrants to pass a background check before they are eligible for temporary legal status. They must pay fines and back taxes and enroll in English classes to gain permanent legal status.

    Opponents of the immigration bill have argued that the Tsarnaevs' alleged crime suggests that the current immigration system is unable to weed out potential terrorists, and that the process of crafting the bill should be slowed down to address that. If the bill is stalled until next fall, opponents hope it will be close enough to the next election that on-the-fence lawmakers will withdraw their support, effectively killing the bill. President Barack Obama has said he hopes the bill will pass this summer.

    Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the most prominent opponents of legalizing immigrants, said at Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the legalization process in the bill could present a national security threat.

    "The background checks in this bill are insufficient from preventing a terrorist from getting amnesty," Kobach said.

    Supporters of the immigration reform bill say the argument is a specious excuse to delay the legislation.

    Read More »from Bombing suspects’ immigration status could stall reform
  • Obama to keynote Planned Parenthood gala

    President Barack Obama (Charles Dharapak/AP)President Barack Obama will keynote Planned Parenthood's annual gala on Thursday night, the abortion rights group announced on Tuesday.

    “President Obama has done more than any president in history for women’s health and rights,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “We are honored to have President Obama join us at our 'Time for Care’ Gala at this pivotal moment for women's health.”

    The White House had previously confirmed the president would attend the gala in Washington, D.C. But his keynote address wasn't publicly announced until Tuesday.

    Discussions about the country's abortion laws have increased in recent weeks amid the Philadelphia murder trial of former abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with murdering a woman during an abortion procedure and with killing seven babies.

    White House press secretary Jay Carney said on April 15 that the president could not take a position on the case because it is currently in trial.

    Carney said Obama is "aware" of it, and later added that "certainly, the things that you hear and read about this case are unsettling."

    Read More »from Obama to keynote Planned Parenthood gala

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  • Mayweather dampens hopes for Pacquiao fight
    Mayweather dampens hopes for Pacquiao fight

    Unbeaten fighter Floyd Mayweather dampened talk of a possible mega-fight agreement with Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, a day after the Asian star's promoter said a deal was near. Mayweather posted a message on his Shots account that said in part "While they continue to lie about making the fight... I'm just going to continue to travel and explore the world on my private jet. Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum told the New York Post on Friday that he was optimistic a Pacquiao-Mayweather deal for a May 2 fight in Las Vegas would be completed in the next couple of days, with only a few final details to be settled between rival telecasters HBO and Showtime, the rights holders for Pacquiao and Mayweather respectively. Mayweather, who turns 38 on February 24, left England's Amir Khan hanging for months until announcing on his birthday last year that he would fight Argentina's Marcos Maidana instead.

  • Super Bowl Sunday kicks off with scandal and spectacle
    Super Bowl Sunday kicks off with scandal and spectacle

    The Super Bowl kicks off Sunday as American football seeks to put a scandal-plagued season behind it, with this year's spectacle featuring a Katy Perry concert, ultra-expensive commercials and a compelling clash between Seattle and New England. The extravaganza is expected to draw a whopping 115 million viewers -- or about one in three Americans -- and amounts to an unofficial holiday in the United States, where even those with no interest in the sport gather at countless Super Bowl parties. This year's championship comes with the National Football League battling back from a season of turmoil, accused of complacency and even conspiracy in its handling of issues ranging from domestic violence to concussion dangers. The latest controversy -- accusations that the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs -- has dominated news coverage in the days leading up to the game.

  • Van Gaal happy to have Fletcher on board

    Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will welcome back Darren Fletcher to Old Trafford if the Scotland international's proposed move to West Ham collapses before the end of the transfer window. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce announced on Saturday that a deal which looked to have been on the verge of completion 24 hours earlier had fallen down due to a disagreement between the clubs over whether the United veteran would make the move on loan or on a permanent basis. "I don't know what's happening," said van Gaal, speaking after his team had beaten bottom-of-the-table Leicester 3-1 at Old Trafford to move up into third place in the Premier League ahead of Southampton's match against Swansea on Sunday.

  • Soccer-English premier league results and standings

    Jan 31 (Infostrada Sports) - Results and standings from the English premier league matches on Saturday Saturday, January 31 Chelsea 1 Manchester City 1 Crystal Palace 0 Everton 1 Hull City 0 Newcastle United 3 Liverpool 2 West Ham United 0 Manchester United 3 Leicester City 1 Stoke City 3 Queens Park Rangers 1 Sunderland 2 Burnley 0 West Bromwich Albion 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3 Standings P W D L F A Pts 1 Chelsea 23 16 5 2 52 20 53 2 Manchester City 23 14 6 3 46 23 48 3 Manchester United 23 12 7 4 39 22 43 -------------------------4 Southampton 22 13 3 6 37 16 42 -------------------------5 ...

  • Murray under microscope after Melbourne Park meltdown

    By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Murray blamed Novak Djokovic's physical problems in their Australian Open final on Sunday for throwing him off his game but that could hardly explain the meltdown that saw the Scot lose 12 of the last 13 games. After leveling at one-set apiece, Murray led 2-0 in the third but collapsed to lose the match 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 under the lights of Rod Laver Arena, his fourth defeat in Australian Open finals and third to Djokovic.

  • Hingis wins Australian Open mixed doubles title with Paes

    Five times grand slam singles winner Martina Hingis won her second Australian Open mixed doubles title on Sunday as she teamed with India's Leander Paes to beat last year's winners France's Kristina Mladenovic and Canada's Daniel Nestor 6-4 6-3. Hingis, a three-time winner of the women's singles at Melbourne Park, also won four women's doubles titles and the mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi in 2006.

  • Djokovic wins 5th Australian Open title, denies Murray a 1st
    Djokovic wins 5th Australian Open title, denies Murray a 1st

    MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic won his fifth Australian Open title and his eighth career Grand Slam while extending Andy Murray's misery at Melbourne Park.

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