Cochran win in Miss. a boost to Washington establishment, blow to tea party movement
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington establishment delivered a punch to the gut of the tea party movement Tuesday as Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, a mainstream conservative with more than 40 years congressional experience, narrowly turned back a challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Unsuccessful in earlier Republican primaries in Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina, outside conservative organizations and tea party groups had invested millions in Mississippi in hopes of knocking out six-term Sen. Cochran. They fell short Tuesday night after a nasty, costly primary, and have few chances to reverse the trend in the remaining contests before November's elections.
The results left the movement's leaders fuming.
"Unfortunately in Mississippi, nefarious campaign tactics seem to have won the day over ideas and a bold conservative vision," said Taylor Budowich, executive director of Tea Party Express. "We thank Senator Chris McDaniel for courageously standing up to the political machine. In politics, the righteous are not always victorious, but Americans across the country appreciate the values that his campaign was built upon."
In another setback for the tea party, two-term Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma won the GOP nomination in the race to succeed Sen. Tom Coburn, who is stepping down with two years left in his term. In the solidly Republican state, Lankford is all but assured of becoming the next senator. Part of the House GOP leadership, Lankford defeated T.W. Shannon, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and the state's first black House speaker, who was backed by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, two stalwarts of the right.
Central American migrants head for US to flee crime, drawn by belief they are allowed to stay
ARRIAGA, Mexico (AP) — On the last day of school Gladys Chinoy memorized her mother's phone number in New York City and boarded a bus to Guatemala's northern border.
With nothing but the clothes on her back, the 14-year-old took a truck-tire raft across the Naranjo River into Mexico and joined a group of five women and a dozen children waiting with one of the smugglers who are paid $6,000 to $7,000 for each migrant they take to the U.S.
The women and children waited by the train tracks in this small town in the southern state of Chiapas until the shriek of a train whistle and the glare of headlights pierced the night. Suddenly, dozens of teens and mothers with young children flooded out of darkened homes and budget hotels, rushing to grab the safest places on the roof of the northbound freight train and join a deluge of children and mothers that is overwhelming the U.S. immigration system.
The number of unaccompanied minors detained on the U.S. border has more than tripled since 2011. Children are also widely believed to be crossing with their parents in rising numbers, although the Obama administration has not released year-by-year figures. The crisis has sparked weeks of bitter political debate inside the U.S., with the administration saying crime is driving migrants north from Central America and congressional Republicans saying Obama's policies is leading migrants to believe children and their mothers will be allowed to stay.
In interviews along the primary migrant route north to the United States, dozens of migrants like Gladys indicated that both sides are right.
After the revolution, Ukraine finally to sign EU trade agreement that set it off
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — On Friday, Ukraine will sign a sweeping economic and trade agreement with the European Union, a 1,200-page telephone book of a document crammed with rules on everything from turkeys to tulips, cheese to machinery.
Yet the agreement is far more than just fine print for experts — it was the catalyst of a revolution that killed scores of Ukrainians and toppled a president. The hope now is it that it will spark another kind of revolution, this one in Ukraine's corrupt, underperforming economy.
The deal holds out the promise of sweeping change in a country rich in people and resources, but which has lagged behind many of its former Soviet peers.
Consider: When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Ukraine and Poland were roughly on par economically. Ukraine's economy is still based largely on privatized Soviet enterprises in mining, steel and machinery. By contrast, Poland created better conditions for business and new industries arose. Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and is now roughly four times richer than Ukraine, measured in economic output per person.
The deal offers "potentially as great a transformation as in Poland," said Nicholas Burge, head of the trade and economic section at the EU's delegation in Kiev. "That is what is potentially on offer for Ukraine, if they can sustain the pace of reform."
Militants mount fresh attack on Iraq refinery as US troops arrive in Baghdad
BAGHDAD (AP) — Sunni militants launched a dawn raid Wednesday on a key Iraqi oil refinery they have been trying to take for days but were repelled by security forces, a commander on the scene said, as dozens of newly arrived U.S. military advisers and special operations forces began assessing the Iraqi forces in an effort to strengthen Baghdad's ability to confront the insurgency.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is struggling to repel advances led by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a well-trained and mobile force thought to have some 10,000 fighters inside Iraq.
The response by government forces has so far been far short of a counteroffensive, restricted mostly to areas where Shiites are in danger of falling prey to the Sunni extremists or around a major Shiite shrine north of Baghdad.
Iraqi officials have told The Associated Press that al-Maliki is ready to at least temporarily concede the loss of large swaths of territory to Sunni insurgents as he deploys the military's best troops to defend Baghdad.
Shiite militias responding to a call to arms by Iraq's top cleric are also focused on protecting the capital and Shiite shrines, while Kurdish fighters have grabbed a long-coveted oil-rich city outside their self-ruled territory, ostensibly to defend it from the al-Qaida breakaway group.
Officials say sanctions on Russia's economy could be delayed amid positive signs from Putin
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sanctions aimed at key economic sectors in Russia because of its threatening moves in Ukraine might be delayed because of positive signals from Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Obama administration officials.
The United States and its European allies were finalizing a package of sanctions with the goal of putting them in place as early as this week, the officials and others close to the process said Tuesday. Penalizing large swaths of the Russian economy, including its lucrative energy industry, would ratchet up the West's punishments against Moscow.
The U.S. and Europe have already sanctioned Russian individuals and entities, including some with close ties to Putin, but have so far stayed away from the broader penalties, in part because of concern from European countries that have close economic ties with Russia.
But with the crisis in Ukraine stretching on, a senior U.S. official said the U.S. and Europe are moving forward on "common sanctions options" that would affect several areas of the Russian economy. A Western diplomat said those options included Russia's energy industry, as well as Moscow's access to world financial markets.
The U.S. and Europe have been eyeing a European Council meeting in Brussels later this week as an opportunity to announce the coordinated sanctions. However, the enthusiasm for new sanctions, particularly among European leaders, appears to have waned in recent days as countries evaluate whether Putin plans to follow through on a series of promises that could ease the crisis, officials said.
As parents of the dead weep, teens who survived South Korea ferry sinking return to school
ANSAN, South Korea (AP) — As parents of the dead wept, more than 70 teenagers who survived a ferry sinking that killed hundreds of their schoolmates walked in a somber procession Wednesday to their first classes since the April disaster.
Some of the 73 students, wearing white and black uniforms and carrying book bags, bowed their heads as they cried and walked slowly from a bus to the school entrance. Some stopped to hug the parents of their friends, who caressed their hair and faces. Adults carried banners of encouragement. One read: "I love you." A large placard, which reads "We pray the dead will rest in peace," was hung up on the school entrance gate.
The anger, grief and deep remorse at Danwon High School in Ansan, outside of Seoul, was a reflection of what many South Koreans have felt since the April 16 sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing. Of the 325 students on a class trip to the southern holiday island of Jeju, 75 were rescued, 245 died and 5 are still missing. Two of those rescued had already returned to school, officials said.
The return to classes of the survivors, who had been staying at a facility in Ansan where they had classes and therapy sessions, comes amid court hearings for the ferry crew and the officials from the company that owned it. Many South Koreans also fault the government, the coast guard and even society for failing the victims.
"We ask for a thorough investigation to find out why our friends and teachers had to become victims and why the rescue efforts didn't proceed properly and led to more victims," one of the surviving students, Shin Young-jin, said in an emotional address. "We hope that you will try to create a safer nation so that such a horrible accident never happens again."
China sends minister-level official to Taiwan for first time since their split in the 1940s
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China has sent its first ever ministerial-level official to Taiwan for four days of meetings to rebuild ties with the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own, after mass protests in Taipei set back relations earlier this year.
Zhang Zhijun, minister of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, reached the island's main airport just before noon Wednesday to speak privately with his government counterpart. He sidestepped scores of anti-China protesters to enter a nearby hotel for the talks.
China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. China sees the island as part of its territory that eventually must be reunified — by force if necessary — despite a Taiwanese public largely wary of the notion of Chinese rule.
In 2008, Beijing set aside its military threats to sign agreements binding its economy to that of the investment-hungry island.
Dialogue opened that year as Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou agreed to put off political issues to build trust and improve the island's economy through tie-ups with China's much larger one. The two sides have signed 21 deals, last year lifting two-way trade to $124.4 billion and bringing in about 3 million mainland tourists, who were once all but banned.
Android news, wearable gadgets, smart home devices expected at Google developer conference
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An Android update, wearable gadgets and so-called smart home devices are just some of the innovations Google is likely to show off at its two-day developer conference, which begins Wednesday in San Francisco.
In recent years, the conference has focused on smartphones and tablets, but this year Google's Android operating system is expected to stretch —into cars, homes and smartwatches.
Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson believes Google will unveil a new version of its Android operating system — possibly called Lollipop — with a "heavy focus" on extensions for smartwatches and smart home devices.
"We think Google will directly counter Apple's recent announcements of health products (Apple HealthKit) and home automation (Apple HomeKit)," Wilson wrote in a note to investors.
Google's I/O event comes at a time of transition for the company, which makes most of its money from advertising thanks to its status as the world's leader in online search. The company is trying to adjust to an ongoing shift to smartphones and tablet computers from desktop and laptop PCs. Though mobile advertising is growing rapidly, advertising aimed at PC users still generates more money.
Uruguay's Luis Suarez apparently bites another opponent in key World Cup match vs Italy
NATAL, Brazil (AP) — Biting opponents, racist comments — all that looked to be behind Luis Suarez, as soccer's bad boy was maturing into a star for his club and country. Then, the old habit that most people leave behind in nursery school cropped up again in front of an audience of millions.
Faced with a smothering and frustrating Italian defense in a must-win World Cup game Tuesday, the Uruguayan superstar responded with his front teeth.
It came at about the 80th minute when Suarez and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini got tangled up in front of the Italy goal. The apparent chomp happened in an instant, but caught by television cameras, it became a worldwide sensation, and could lead to Suarez being kicked out of the World Cup.
The referee didn't see a bite, and no foul was called despite Chiellini pleading and pulling down his jersey to show a red mark on his left shoulder.
About a minute later, Uruguay scored the winning goal in a 1-0 game that sent Italy home.
Howard reaches appearances record for US goalkeepers in crucial World Cup game against Germany
RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Tim Howard rarely makes it through a game without accepting multiple celebratory embraces from relieved American teammates.
It happens almost every time the U.S. goalkeeper launches his solid, 6-foot-3 frame to make spectacular saves — diving, leaping and even punching the ball away for difficult stops.
There were a number of such moments Sunday night in a 2-2 tie against Portugal, and the Americans are counting on more of the same when they face three-time champion Germany on Thursday with a berth in the World Cup's knockout round at stake.
The 35-year-old Howard will reach an impressive milestone in the process: The Group G finale will be his 103rd international appearance, passing Kasey Keller for the most by an American goalkeeper.
Not that it's even on Howard's mind with the U.S. trying to reach the knockout stage of consecutive World Cups for the first time. The Americans were in position to advance Sunday before they surrendered a goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time in buggy, muggy Manaus. When Varela's header sailed into the net off a beautiful cross from two-time world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, Howard instantly put his hands on his head and sighed.