The Obama era in photos

The Obama era in photos

President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. August 4, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

elections

West African forces poised for Gambia intervention as leader's mandate ends

West African forces poised for Gambia intervention as leader's mandate ends

By Tim Cocks BANJUL (Reuters) - West African troops were poised to intervene in Gambia on Thursday after President Yahya Jammeh's mandate expired and overnight talks to convince him to stand down failed. Senegal has deployed hundreds of soldiers to its shared border with Gambia and Nigeria has pre-positioned war planes and helicopters after regional bloc ECOWAS said it would remove Jammeh if he did not hand over power to challenger Adama Barrow, who won an election in early December. Gambia's capital, Banjul, was quiet overnight and on Thursday morning as military helicopters flew overhead and police trucks patrolled largely empty streets.

Gambia's vice president quits after two decades in role: sources

Gambia's vice president quits after two decades in role: sources

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia's Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, who has been in the role since 1997, has quit, a government source and a family member told Reuters on Thursday. Saidy is the highest level official to abandon President Yahya Jammeh's camp in his stand-off with opposition leader Adama Barrow, who won an election in December. Abubakar Senghore, Gambia's minister for higher education, has also quit, the sources said. (Reporting by Tim Cocks; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland)

French Socialists still trail four other Presidential candidates as primary approaches: poll

French Socialists still trail four other Presidential candidates as primary approaches: poll

France's Socialists still trail well behind four other main candidates for the French presidency days ahead of the first round of the party's presidential primary, according to extracts from a new opinion poll published by Le Monde. An article on the newspaper's web site on Thursday said the poll by Cevipof put far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen in front for the first round of the election itself on between 25 and 26 percent. Conservative Francois Fillon was close behind her on between 23 and 25 percent, with independent Emmanuel Macron on between 17 percent and over 20 percent.

Turkish parliament approves more constitutional reform articles

Turkish parliament approves more constitutional reform articles

Turkey's parliament approved the first seven articles in a second round of voting overnight on a constitutional bill that will extend President Tayyip Erdogan's powers, keeping the reform on course for a spring referendum. The two largest opposition parties in parliament say the 18-article bill, which could enable Erdogan to rule until 2029, will fuel authoritarianism in the NATO member and European Union candidate country. The ruling AK Party, backed by the nationalist MHP, says it will bring the strong executive leadership needed to prevent a return to the fragile coalition governments of the past.

Trump to name ex-Georgia Governor Perdue as agriculture secretary

Trump to name ex-Georgia Governor Perdue as agriculture secretary

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will name former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as his nominee for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, a senior transition official said on Wednesday. By nominating a former governor from a Southern state, Trump eschewed candidates from major Farm Belt states in the Midwest that produce the bulk of crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat which dominate agriculture exports. While Georgia governor, Perdue had to handle a severe drought in 2007, during which he took steps to cut water usage and at one point led a service outside the state capitol to pray for rain.

Trump's Indonesian business partner sees no conflicts of interest

Trump's Indonesian business partner sees no conflicts of interest

By Jonathan Allen NEW YORK (Reuters) - Donald Trump's Indonesian business partner dismissed concerns by ethics officials that the U.S. president-elect's companies' overseas business deals might be vulnerable to conflicts of interest in an interview on Wednesday. Hary Tanoesoedibjo, 51, is the billionaire chairman and chief executive of MNC Group, which is constructing two luxury resorts in Indonesia that will be managed by the Trump Hotel Collection, a subsidiary of the Trump Organization. Like Trump, Tanoesoedibjo believes his country's politics could benefit from his business acumen and says he now devotes half his 16-hour days to tending to Perindo, the political party he founded last year, and other political efforts.

Factbox: Trump fills top jobs for his administration

(Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will name former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as his nominee for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, a senior transition official said on Wednesday. Here is a list of Republican Trump's selections for top jobs in his administration. NOTE: Senate confirmation is required for all the posts except national security adviser and White House posts.

OSCE report cites concerns about U.S. electoral system: German media

OSCE report cites concerns about U.S. electoral system: German media

International observers documented a range of concerns during November's U.S. elections, including cyber security risks, disenfranchisement of current and former prisoners, and an opaque campaign finance system, a German newspaper group reported. "The American electoral system is very fragmented and in many places no longer meets international standards," Michael Link, chief election observer for the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain.

Obama hopes for quiet after White House but will defend 'core values'

Obama hopes for quiet after White House but will defend 'core values'

President Barack Obama gave some insight into his vision for life after the White House during a final news conference on Wednesday in which he praised the role of a free press and shared personal reflections on how his daughters had dealt with the results of the 2016 election. Obama and his family will leave for Palm Springs, California, on Friday after the inauguration of Republican Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. "I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much," said Obama, 55, who wants to write a book during his first year out of office and spend time with his family.

Mauritania president flies to Senegal after Gambia mediation

DAKAR (Reuters) - Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz flew straight to Senegal to meet President Macky Sall after last ditch talks in Gambia aiming to resolve a crisis over its election, a Senegalese presidential source told Reuters on Thursday. Aziz left Gambia shortly before midnight, when Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh's presidential mandate expired. Senegal, with backing from regional leaders, has threatened to invade Gambia to depose Jammeh if he does not immediately hand over power to challenger Adama Barrow, who beat him in an election in December. ...

New York probing reverse mortgages at Treasury nominee's ex-bank: source

New York probing reverse mortgages at Treasury nominee's ex-bank: source

The New York attorney general's office is investigating reverse-mortgage servicing companies, including a unit of the bank Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin ran, according to a person familiar with the matter. Financial Freedom, a unit of OneWest bank, is being probed over alleged complaints it deliberately targeted seniors with dementia and other memory-loss related issues, among other things, the person said. Champion Mortgage, a unit of Nationstar Mortgage [NMORT.UL], is also under scrutiny over some aggressive practices, said the person, who did not want to be identified because the probe is not public.

Senegal army ready to enter Gambia if president refuses to quit

Senegal army ready to enter Gambia if president refuses to quit

By Tim Cocks BANJUL (Reuters) - Senegal's army spokesman said on Wednesday that its forces are at the Gambian border and will enter at midnight if the veteran president, Yahya Jammeh, refuses to relinquish power. Jammeh, who lost a Dec. 1 election to opposition leader Adama Barrow, said he would not step down, citing irregularities in the vote. The Nigerian Air Force said it had deployed to Senegal in case it was needed.

Trump EPA pick expresses doubts on climate, defends oil industry funding

Trump EPA pick expresses doubts on climate, defends oil industry funding

By Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump's choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed doubt about the science behind global climate change during a contentious Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, but added he would be obliged for now to uphold the EPA's finding carbon dioxide poses a public danger. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, 48, sued the agency he intends to run more than a dozen times on behalf of his state. This earned him strong support from petroleum companies and convinced both his opponents and supporters that he would aggressively carry out Trump's campaign vows to slash EPA regulation to boost drilling and mining.

Republican defends border-adjustment tax after Trump criticism

By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top Republican in Congress on Wednesday defended his border-adjustable tax provision against criticism from President-elect Donald Trump, warning that U.S. jobs and companies will continue to move abroad unless the controversial measure is included in tax reform. Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the House of Representatives tax-writing committee that produced the proposal, said the reform measure to tax imports but not exports remains part of the discussions between Republican lawmakers and Trump's presidential transition team. "I'm absolutely confident that we can move this provision forward," Brady said in an interview with CNBC.

Democrats take aim at Mnuchin as confirmation hearing looms

Democrats take aim at Mnuchin as confirmation hearing looms

By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Borrowers who say OneWest Bank refused to help them when they struggled to pay their mortgages appeared Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where they urged the U.S. Senate to vote against confirming the bank's former chief executive, Steven Mnuchin, as Treasury Secretary. The event, organized by Senate Democrats including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, featured a handful of OneWest borrowers who spoke about their personal experiences.

Ghana to deploy 205 combat troops to regional force for Gambia - president

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana is sending 205 combat troops to Gambia for the regional mission aiming to deploy if President Yahya Jammeh does not step aside when his mandate ends at midnight, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a statement on Wednesday. "The objective is to create an enabling environment ... (to) facilitate the inauguration of the President-Elect, Adama Barrow, on Thursday, January 19, 2017," Akufo-Addo said, referring to the winner of December's election. Nigeria and Senegal have also deployed soldiers to the force. (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Tim Cocks)

Kawasaki dumps 'Apprentice' over Trump's continued involvement

Kawasaki dumps 'Apprentice' over Trump's continued involvement

Japanese motoring company Kawasaki said on Wednesday it was ending its association with reality TV show "The New Celebrity Apprentice" because of President-elect Donald Trump's continued involvement as an executive producer. Citing feedback from customers, unease among its executives, and a grassroots boycott campaign, Kawasaki said it would no longer sponsor or take part in the show. "Once we understood the concerns of American citizens, we have taken the approach of agreeing not to participate in the show in the future as long as Mister Trump is involved as an executive producer," Kawasaki Motors Corp USA spokesman Kevin Allen said in a telephone interview.

Business euphoria over Trump gives way to caution, uncertainty

Business euphoria over Trump gives way to caution, uncertainty

By Patrick Rucker and Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Early optimism among business lobbyists and executives that Donald Trump's election heralded better days has slowly given way to uncertainty as the president-elect fires off mixed and sometimes confusing messages on healthcare, taxes and trade. Some of that has frayed as questions arise over the nuts and bolts of Trump's campaign promises, although many in the business community said they remained optimistic. Doubts deepened over the weekend as Trump declared he would replace President Barack Obama's signature healthcare plan known as Obamacare with "insurance for everybody" - a goal far beyond Republican designs - and criticized a key component of a plan in Congress to overhaul corporate taxes.

Gambia's Barrow to be sworn in at undisclosed place: spokesperson

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow will be sworn in on Thursday at an undisclosed location, his spokesman said on Wednesday, despite the incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, refusing to step down. "The inauguration at the stadium will not take place as planned," spokesman Halifa Sallah told journalists in Banjul. "So he is preparing his inauguration by other means," he added, without giving details of the location. "The government (cannot) ... stop president-elect Barrow from being inaugurated. ...

Slapping ex-PM Valls gets French teenager three-month suspended sentence

A teenager who slapped former French prime minister Manuel Valls during an election campaign trip to Brittany was handed a three-month suspended sentence and was ordered to carry out 105 hours of community service, a prosecutor said on Wednesday. Valls, 54, was walking past a group of people in the town of Lamballe on Tuesday after coming out of the municipal office. The 18-year-old accused admitted his guilt, enabling the judge to offer him a swift sentence and avoiding a potential trial, Bertrand Leclerc, a prosecutor in the northwestern town of Saint-Brieuc, told Reuters.

Mauritanian president arrives in Gambia to talk to Jammeh

BANJUL (Reuters) - Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz arrived in Gambia on Wednesday to talk to President Yahya Jammeh, Gambian state TV said, in what might be the latest mediation effort to persuade Jammeh to step down to defuse a political crisis. Jammeh is refusing to step down despite losing an election to challenger Adama Barrow. State TV did not give any specific reason for the visit. (Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Trump spokesman to brief press on Thursday

Trump spokesman to brief press on Thursday

(Reuters) - Donald Trump's spokesman said his team will brief the media on Thursday in Washington, one day before the Republican U.S. president-elect is sworn into office on Friday. Sean Spicer, speaking to reporters in a daily conference call on Wednesday, said: "Tomorrow, we're holding a press conference here at 9:15" a.m. Eastern Time (1415 GMT), but it was not expected to feature the president-elect. (Reporting by Steve Holland, Emily Stephenson and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Gambians, tourists flee on eve of deadline for leader to surrender power

Gambians, tourists flee on eve of deadline for leader to surrender power

Gambians and tourists were boarding buses, packing suitcases onto trucks and hiring canoes to flee the capital on Wednesday, as President Yahya Jammeh clung to power on the eve of his rival Adama Barrow's planned swearing in. Jammeh, a former soldier who once vowed to rule for "a billion years", is refusing to step down, despite condemnation from regional leaders and even the threat of an imminent invasion by West African troops to enforce his election defeat. In a sign he is digging in, Gambia's National Assembly has passed a resolution to allow Jammeh, who has been in power since a 1994 coup, to stay in office for three months from Wednesday.

Cuomo says he discussed Obamacare, tax deductions with Trump

Cuomo says he discussed Obamacare, tax deductions with Trump

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday he discussed the dramatic impact that some budget proposals being considered in Washington would have on New Yorkers, including a repeal of Obamacare and a proposal to end deductions for state and local taxes. "A proposal that's being discussed that would end the deductibility of state and local taxes, for example, which would be devastating for New York, California etc," Cuomo said after meeting the Republican president-elect.

U.S. must fight back vs. Russia, others who meddle in elections: Trump U.N. pick

U.S. must fight back vs. Russia, others who meddle in elections: Trump U.N. pick

The United States should fight back against Russia or any nation that seeks to interfere in U.S. elections, Nikki Haley, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Wednesday. Asked what would be her message to Moscow on Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, she said: "That we are aware that it has happened.

Trump to take handful of executive actions on Day One: transition

Trump to take handful of executive actions on Day One: transition

President-elect Donald Trump may take four or five executive actions on Friday, the day he is sworn into office, spokesman Sean Spicer said. "He's got a few of them probably in the area of four or five that we're looking at for Friday," some of them logistical, Spicer said Wednesday at a news briefing. "Then there are some other ones that I expect him to sign with respect to a couple of issues that have been high on his priority list." Spicer did not elaborate.

Senegal troops head for Gambia as Jammeh mandate expires: sources

Columns of Senegalese troops moved to the Gambian border on Wednesday, threatening military action against President Yahya Jammeh, who has refused to accept a December election defeat, military sources and residents of towns near the border said. "We are heading towards there," one military source in Dakar told Reuters. "We are very seriously preparing ourselves." Residents of the towns of Diouloulou and Ziguinchor in southern Senegal reported troop movements towards the Gambian frontier from midnight onwards.

At least 26,000 people flee Gambia to Senegal as refugees: U.N.

ZIGUINCHOR, Senegal (Reuters) - At least 26,000 people have fled Gambia into Senegal fearing President Yahya Jammeh's decision to stay in power after losing an election in December could spark unrest, the United Nations said on Wednesday, citing Senegalese government figures. "Up until the night of the 16th there were 26,000 people .... The flow has increased sharply since then," said Helene Caux, regional information officer for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. She said up to 80 percent were children accompanied by women. ...

Democrats blast Trump's pick for Education Secretary

Democrats blast Trump's pick for Education Secretary

(Corrects in 6th paragraph to clarify rules) By Lisa Lambert WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats sliced holes in billionaire Betsy DeVos' credentials to be the next U.S. Education Secretary at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday, raising doubts whether President-elect Donald Trump's pick will win approval in the full Senate. The nomination of DeVos to head an agency that sets policy for younger children and universities and also administers a college financial aid program of $1 trillion has outraged Democrats who believe the Michigan Republican wants to dismantle public education. Teachers unions, a major constituency for the party, roundly oppose DeVos, a philanthropist and investor.

Potentially nasty fight looms over Trump U.S. Supreme Court pick

Potentially nasty fight looms over Trump U.S. Supreme Court pick

By Andrew Chung WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Democrats are gearing up for a potentially ugly fight over Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court pick, with some liberal activists urging them to do everything possible to block any nominee from the Republican president-elect. Democrats are still seething over the Republican-led Senate's decision last year to refuse to consider outgoing President Barack Obama's nomination of appeals court judge Merrick Garland for a lifetime post on the court. The action had little precedent in U.S. history and prompted some Democrats to accuse Republicans of stealing a Supreme Court seat.

us

Obama says reducing leaker Chelsea Manning's prison term serves justice

Obama says reducing leaker Chelsea Manning's prison term serves justice

By Jeff Mason and Dustin Volz WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had served a tough prison term and his decision to commute her 35-year sentence to about seven years served would not signal leniency toward leakers of U.S. government secrets. Obama told his final news conference as president that he felt it made sense to commute Manning's sentence because she went to trial, took responsibility for her crime and her sentence was disproportionate to those received by other leakers. "Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence," Obama said of his decision to reduce her sentence, which was announced Tuesday in a batch of 209 commutations and 64 pardons granted.

CIA unveils new rules for collecting information on Americans

CIA unveils new rules for collecting information on Americans

By Jonathan Landay LANGLEY, Va. (Reuters) - The Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday unveiled revised rules for collecting, analyzing and storing information on American citizens, updating the rules for the information age and publishing them in full for the first time. The guidelines are designed "in a manner that protects the privacy and civil rights of the American people," CIA General Counsel Caroline Krass told a briefing at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The new rules were released amid continued public discomfort over the government's surveillance powers, an issue that gained prominence following revelations in 2013 by former government contractor Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency (NSA) secretly collected the communications data of millions of ordinary Americans.

Global oil production dropping as OPEC cuts kick in

PARIS (AP) — The International Energy Agency says global oil output is dropping for the first time in months, as Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries follow through on pledged cuts aimed at lifting oil prices.

GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out

GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican governors who turned down billions in federal dollars from an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law now have their hand out in hopes the GOP Congress comes up with a new formula to provide health insurance for lower-income Americans.

Sales up at newly merged supermarket operator Ahold Delhaize

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ahold Delhaize, the recently merged Dutch-Belgian operator of U.S. supermarket chains including Stop & Shop and Giant, says its sales rose sharply to 15.1 billion euros ($16 billion) in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to a strong performance in the Netherlands.

AP source: Perdue to be tapped for agriculture secretary

AP source: Perdue to be tapped for agriculture secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sonny Perdue, a farmer's son who built businesses in grain trading and trucking before becoming the first Republican governor of Georgia since Reconstruction, is President-elect Donald Trump's choice to lead the Agriculture Department, The Associated Press has learned.

Sheriff accused of meth theft pleads to felony, resigns

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A newly elected West Virginia sheriff who admitted he was a meth addict and was charged with stealing the drug from a police locker pleaded guilty to a felony and resigned from office Wednesday, a prosecutor said.

education

Gambia's vice president quits after two decades in role -sources

Gambia's vice president quits after two decades in role -sources

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia's Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, who has been in the role since 1997, has quit, a government source and a family member told Reuters on Thursday. Saidy is the highest level official to abandon President Yahya Jammeh's camp in his stand-off with opposition leader Adama Barrow, who won an election in December. Abubakar Senghore, Gambia's minister for higher education, has also quit, the sources said. (Reporting by Tim Cocks; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Gambia's vice president quits after two decades in role: sources

Gambia's vice president quits after two decades in role: sources

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia's Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, who has been in the role since 1997, has quit, a government source and a family member told Reuters on Thursday. Saidy is the highest level official to abandon President Yahya Jammeh's camp in his stand-off with opposition leader Adama Barrow, who won an election in December. Abubakar Senghore, Gambia's minister for higher education, has also quit, the sources said. (Reporting by Tim Cocks; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Islamic State kills 12 in Palmyra, among them teachers, soldiers: monitor

Islamic State militants put at least 12 people to death in execution-style killings in the ancient city of Palmyra, which they re-captured from the government for a second time in December, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Thursday. The eight others - four of them government soldiers and four of them rebel fighters captured elsewhere in Syria - were shot. Some of the killings took place at an ancient Roman theater in Palmyra, where Islamic State last year put at least 25 government fighters to death, the Observatory said.

Czech bubble artist surrounds 275 students with soap 'screen' to claim record

Czech bubble artist surrounds 275 students with soap 'screen' to claim record

A Czech performer of bubble art surrounded 275 high school students and a car with a single soap-bubble screen on Wednesday, breaking the national record. Matej Kodes raised the screen around a rectangular 11 metre-by-7.5 meter area, enclosing those inside for a few seconds. Kodes, who has performed since 2008, achieved a Guinness World Record in 2014 for "most people inside a soap bubble", which at that time stood at 214.

Ranking the Schools that Turn Poor Kids into Wealthy Ones

Ranking the Schools that Turn Poor Kids into Wealthy Ones

At a time when parents of college-bound students are waiting anxiously for news about acceptances and wondering about their children’s future, a new study from the Equality of Opportunity Project is out with a new way of evaluating the effectiveness of institutions across the country. The report used publicly available data to establish what it calls a “mobility rate” for each college or university in the country. The result is a list of top colleges that looks nothing like typical college ranking schemes, with leafy private schools yielding place to an assortment of mostly urban, mostly public institutions.

Czech bubble artist surrounds 275 students with soap 'screen' to claim record

Czech bubble artist surrounds 275 students with soap 'screen' to claim record

A Czech performer of bubble art surrounded 275 high school students and a car with a single soap-bubble screen on Wednesday, breaking the national record. Matej Kodes raised the screen around a rectangular 11 metre-by-7.5 meter area, enclosing those inside for a few seconds. Kodes, who has performed since 2008, achieved a Guinness World Record in 2014 for "most people inside a soap bubble", which at that time stood at 214.

Watch These College Students Experience A Terrifying Boating Accident And Somehow Emerge Unharmed

Watch These College Students Experience A Terrifying Boating Accident And Somehow Emerge Unharmed

Two University of Florida students were participating in the FLW College Fishing tournament over the weekend when their boat spun out of control, flinging them overboard. Conner Young and Hunter Bland were the two students in the boat, cruising at 60 mph, when a locknut came loose, disabling the steering wheel and knocking the outboard motor violently to one side, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Democrats blast Trump's pick for Education Secretary

Democrats blast Trump's pick for Education Secretary

(Corrects in 6th paragraph to clarify rules) By Lisa Lambert WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats sliced holes in billionaire Betsy DeVos' credentials to be the next U.S. Education Secretary at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday, raising doubts whether President-elect Donald Trump's pick will win approval in the full Senate. The nomination of DeVos to head an agency that sets policy for younger children and universities and also administers a college financial aid program of $1 trillion has outraged Democrats who believe the Michigan Republican wants to dismantle public education. Teachers unions, a major constituency for the party, roundly oppose DeVos, a philanthropist and investor.

DeVos: Won't dismantle public schools as education secretary

DeVos: Won't dismantle public schools as education secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a sometimes contentious confirmation hearing, education secretary pick Betsy DeVos pledged that she would not seek to dismantle public schools amid questions by Democrats about her qualifications, political donations and long-time work advocating for charter schools and school choice.

DeVos pledges not to undo public education, pushes choice

DeVos pledges not to undo public education, pushes choice

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a sometimes contentious confirmation hearing, education secretary pick Betsy DeVos pledged that she would not seek to dismantle public schools amid questions by Democrats about her qualifications, political donations and long-time work advocating for charter schools and school choice.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education pick, hints at sweeping changes ahead

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education pick, hints at sweeping changes ahead

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos listens to Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., before testifying on Capitol Hill on Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Education, indicated that she is open to radically rethinking the federal government’s role in education on issues from sexual assault cases on college campuses to cutting federal support for the nation’s public schools in a contentious confirmation hearing Tuesday evening. Democratic senators repeatedly pressed DeVos to spell out her specific vision for the Department of Education, but the education activist and billionaire from Michigan kept mostly to generalities, outlining a broad vision of school choice in which parents could use state money to send their kids to private or charter schools.

Pay the IRS late? At some companies, it's a strategic move

Pay the IRS late? At some companies, it's a strategic move

NEW YORK (AP) — The idea of paying taxes late and incurring IRS interest charges elicits a stern "Don't do that!" from many tax professionals. Yet some business owners decide that it's cheaper and more convenient than taking out a loan. So those with short-term cash management issues or personal expenditures like college tuition may make a strategic decision to pay the government late.

10 Colleges Where the Most Applicants Are Wait-Listed

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or graduate school search.

Consider Grad School in the U.K., Australia vs. U.S

When deciding between studying in the United Kingdom, Australia and the U.S., Nigerian doctor Ugwoke Sunday Paul says the final decision came easy -- he chose the U.K. Paul says he favored everything from the shorter degree time to few required standardized exams for graduate school admission. Prospective international students weighing which of these three countries to pursue graduate studies in may find that the U.K. and Australia -- rather than the U.S. -- offer them a quicker, more affordable master's degree without the required GRE or GMAT. Here are three reasons to consider the U.K. and Australia over the U.S. for grad school.

DeVos to face questions over schools, conservative activism

DeVos to face questions over schools, conservative activism

WASHINGTON (AP) — Charter school advocate Betsy DeVos is widely expected to push for expanding school choice programs if confirmed as education secretary, prompting pushback from teachers unions. But Democrats and activists also are raising concerns about how her conservative Christian beliefs and advocacy for family values might impact minority and LGBT students.

Teachers kidnapped by suspected Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan

Suspected Islamic State militants kidnapped 12 teachers and two other staff of a religious school in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, officials said. The teachers were taken on Sunday when a group of Islamic State (IS) fighters entered the school in Haska Mina district during an examination, the education department in the provincial capital Jalalabad said. Kidnapping for both criminal ransom and political gain is a major problem in Afghanistan.

Walker's Wisconsin tuition idea shuffles political alliances

Walker's Wisconsin tuition idea shuffles political alliances

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to cut tuition at the University of Wisconsin and use taxpayer funds to pay for it is shaking up normal political alliances with some Democrats expressing support while skeptical fellow Republicans worry it could put the state on a path toward socialist Bernie Sanders' free college tuition plan.

Lessons in respect at China's Confucius kindergartens

Lessons in respect at China's Confucius kindergartens

Children in scholars hats bow before a statue of Confucius, the Chinese sage once reviled by Communist authorities but now enjoying a revival as parents look to instil his values in their offspring. With central government backing, hundreds of private schools dedicated to Confucian teachings have sprung up across the country in response to growing demand for more traditional education. At a new institution in the central city of Wuhan, about 30 students aged two to six chant: "Our respect to you, Master Confucius.

Walker's Wisconsin tuition idea shuffles political alliances

Walker's Wisconsin tuition idea shuffles political alliances

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to cut tuition at the University of Wisconsin and use taxpayer funds to pay for it is shaking up normal political alliances with some Democrats expressing support while skeptical fellow Republicans worry it could put the state on a path toward socialist Bernie Sanders' free college tuition plan.

Consider 10 Things When Juggling Career Goals, Online Education

1. Online education is ideal for career changers. Online learning's flexibility allows working adults, wherever they live, to switch careers, Melissa Venable, a Saint Leo University and University of South Florida online instructor and course designer, told U.S. News. Before online education, "You would say, 'I'm going to switch and go to school on the weekends,' or 'I'm going to have to save money so I can stop working and go to school,'" Venable says.

3 Facts for High School Teachers About Connecting, Sharing Ideas on Instagram

Teens love Instagram, but the social network can also be a great resource for high school teachers. "It can be very challenging to get outside of your classroom during a really busy school day, so this is a way for me to connect with educators from all over," says Jenna Copper, an English teacher at Wilmington Area High School in Pennsylvania and @doc_cop on Instagram. Ashley Million Bible, an English teacher at Greeneville High School in Tennessee, finds the educator community on Instagram helpful too.

Michelle Obama to young people in final official speech: This country belongs to you

Michelle Obama to young people in final official speech: This country belongs to you

“Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter or like you don’t have a place in our American story, because you do,” Obama said Friday during a White House event honoring school counselors. Obama kicked off the event by celebrating the achievements of those who’ve participated in her Reach Higher initiative, which aims to make the U.S. college graduation rate the highest in the world by 2020. First lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks.

Several Indian colleges ban sexist singers from performing on campus

Several Indian colleges ban sexist singers from performing on campus

Women's colleges affiliated with Delhi University (DU), one of India's top educational institutions, have put their feet down regarding misogyny.  Student unions have barred certain musicians whose lyrics they deem sexist  from performing at upcoming student festivals.  SEE ALSO: This city now allows women to carry knives for 'self protection' on metro trains Colleges such as Miranda House, Lady Shree Ram, Gargi and Kamla Nehru are leading the charge, the Times of India reported. Artists who "objectify women and make sexist comments in their songs" are not being invited, they say.  The banned performers include Punjabi rappers Yo Yo Honey Singh and Badshah among others. These singers are currently very popular in India thanks in part to their musical involvement in Bollywood films.  But their tunes have earned the ire of young women.  One of the student union heads said, "We are trying to propagate the ideas of feminism and equality, while these artists are using their art form to demean women. The lyrics of their songs are offensive, abusive and completely opposite of what we are taught in college." DU colleges have traditionally been among the most active and socially conscious institutions in India and they continue their fight against patriarchy and misogyny.  So, more power to the girls! BONUS: Emma Watson takes her fight for gender equality to universities

Will it work? Cuomo proposes free college for thousands in NY

Amid a soundtrack of Bon Jovi's "Work for the Working Man," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the stage Tuesday morning at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, joined by liberal darling Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont, to unveil concrete plans for a much-hyped proposal: free college tuition. Gov. Cuomo, a centrist Democrat who is rumored to have presidential aspirations of his own, announced a plan that would make attending a state or city university in New York, including two-year programs, free for New Yorkers whose families earn $125,000 or less per year. "College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success," Cuomo said Tuesday, as The Washington Post reported.

How to Become an Extreme Saver in 2017

This year, it's going to be different. At the end of 2017, you really will have some money stashed away for your emergency fund, your retirement, your kid's college education and that elusive worldwide vacation.

New York governor proposes free tuition plan at state colleges

New York governor proposes free tuition plan at state colleges

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed free tuition at the state's public colleges for students from low- and middle-income families on Tuesday, seizing on an idea that became a rallying cry for many Democrats in last year's presidential election. Under Cuomo's plan, which he called the first of its kind in the nation, the state would cover tuition for any student from a family earning less than $125,000 a year by 2019, a means-tested benchmark that coincided with one proposed by Hillary Clinton in her failed presidential bid. Cuomo is widely seen as a potential future presidential candidate.

Anxiety May Give Dogs Gray Hair

Anxiety May Give Dogs Gray Hair

"Based on my years of experience observing and working with dogs, I've long had a suspicion that dogs with higher levels of anxiety and impulsiveness also show increased muzzle grayness," study lead researcher Camille King, who earned her doctorate at Northern Illinois University's Adult and Higher Education program in 2011 and now has her own animal behavior practice in the Denver area, said in a statement.

religion

Pope to bless Philippines' Duterte, aide says

Pope to bless Philippines' Duterte, aide says

Pope Francis will bless the Philippines and its leader Rodrigo Duterte, an aide to the president said, in a gesture of goodwill to a controversial figure known for his lurid lambasting of priests and bishops. "When I had the opportunity of kissing the hand of the Pope, I said, 'Bless the Philippines, Your Holiness,' and his answer was, 'Yes, I will also bless your president," presidential adviser Jesus Dureza said in a video clip at St. Peter's Square, shown on television on Thursday.

Ghost churches near Jordan River baptism site await reclamation

Ghost churches near Jordan River baptism site await reclamation

By Ori Lewis QASR AL-YAHUD, West Bank (Reuters) - Ghost churches on the western bank of the Jordan River, near where Jesus is believed to have been baptized, could be reopened to pilgrims as part of a project to remove booby-traps and land mines. The river banks were once a war zone between Israel and Jordan, and were littered with thousands of mines and unexploded ordnance. The Gospel of John refers to "Bethany beyond the Jordan" without further details.

Philippine Church speaks out on drug killings

Philippine Church speaks out on drug killings

People going to mass at one of the most famous churches in the Philippine capital over Christmas were met by a disturbing sight: poster-size pictures of Filipinos dying in pools of blood. The shock Baclaran church exhibit was part of a campaign by one of the nation's oldest and most powerful institutions to stop the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's war against drugs, which has claimed about 6,000 thousand lives. "The Church right now is asserting its influence, that's why in the coming months the Church will be at the forefront in leading against extrajudicial killings," Jerome Secillano, public affairs chief for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, told AFP.

Lances drawn in condoms row: Pope's duel with Knights intensifies

Lances drawn in condoms row: Pope's duel with Knights intensifies

Pope Francis's duel with the Knights of Malta intensified Tuesday as he backed an investigation into the ancient order, which has questioned the legitimacy and make-up of the panel carrying out the probe. In a condom-related spat that is seen by some as a proxy war between liberals and conservatives in the Catholic church, Francis last month appointed a five-strong team to examine recent turmoil at the Order, a Church-linked charity body descended from the crusading knights of the Middle Ages. The Knights' hierarchy is currently refusing to cooperate with the probe.

Vatican orders Knights of Malta to cooperate with papal inquiry

Vatican orders Knights of Malta to cooperate with papal inquiry

By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican demanded on Tuesday that the leaders of the Knights of Malta, a worldwide Catholic chivalric and charity group, cooperate with an inquiry into alleged irregularities ordered by Pope Francis. In the latest salvo of a battle of wills between the heads of two of the world's oldest institutions, a Vatican statement also rejected what it said was an attempt by the Rome-based Knights to discredit members of a papal commission of inquiry. Both sides have been locked in a bitter dispute since one of the order's top knights, Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, was sacked on Dec. 6 in the chivalric equivalent of a boardroom showdown - ostensibly because he allowed the use of condoms in a medical project for the poor.

Trump to be sworn in on 'Lincoln Bible'

Trump to be sworn in on 'Lincoln Bible'

At his swearing-in on Friday, Donald Trump will stand before a crowd of thousands and place his hand on his own Bible and, symbolically, on that used by Abraham Lincoln 156 years before. The president-election's inauguration committee on Tuesday announced that Trump would be sworn by Chief Justice John Roberts, using two books. The first -- embossed with his name -- was given to Trump by his mother when he graduated from New York's Sunday Church Primary School in 1955.

Knights of Malta seek to discredit pope's probe of ouster

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The head of the embattled Knights of Malta is seeking to discredit a Vatican investigation into the removal of a top official over a condom scandal, insisting that he followed the rules in the dismissal.

After Vatican controversy, McDonald's helps feed homeless in Rome

After Vatican controversy, McDonald's helps feed homeless in Rome

By Isla Binnie ROME (Reuters) - McDonald's received a lukewarm reception when it opened a new branch just steps from St. Peter's Square last month, but on Monday the fast food giant accepted a challenge to adopt one of Pope Francis's cherished principles - feeding the hungry. The new restaurant, whose opening in a Vatican-owned building on Dec. 30 upset some purists, donated dozens of meals on Monday to a charity which distributed them at a walk-in clinic in Rome. Pope Francis has made defense of the poor and needy a cornerstone of his papacy, setting up shower stalls for the homeless near the Vatican, offering meals and even a VIP-style visit to the Sistine Chapel.

Pope admits to 'darkness' in own faith

Pope admits to 'darkness' in own faith

Pope Francis admitted on Sunday to sometimes having "darkness" cloud his own faith, while warning against "Christian parrots" who pay lip service to the church without acting on its values. "At certain times, I have also encountered moments of darkness in my faith and that faith decreased a lot, but with a little bit of time we rediscover it," the Pointiff told parishioners after saying mass in a village near Rome. Francis also urged believers to spend more time talking to their family.

Egypt drops case against mob that attacked Christian woman

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian prosecutors have thrown out a case brought by an elderly Christian woman against several members of a Muslim mob who stripped off her clothes and paraded her naked through the streets, her lawyer said Sunday.

Pope meets Palestinian leader; Vatican calls Jerusalem holy

Pope meets Palestinian leader; Vatican calls Jerusalem holy

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican stressed the sacred nature of Jerusalem on Saturday as the Palestinian leader warned that prospects for peace could suffer if the incoming Trump administration goes ahead with plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Pope extends overhaul of Vatican's liturgy department

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is extending his controversial overhaul of the Vatican's liturgy department, adding a host of new advisers after an initial shake-up removed some leading conservative cardinals.

Protesters confront Russian Orthodox Church in cathedral dispute

Protesters confront Russian Orthodox Church in cathedral dispute

Russians living in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg have been protesting against city authorities' decision to hand control of the country's largest cathedral to the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. The dispute centres on a decision by the state to hand the cathedral's management over to the Russian Orthodox Church. Some fear the Church will make the cathedral less accessible -- which it denies -- while others oppose the state handing over control of a key asset without consulting local residents.

Saudi Arabia's religious authority says cinemas, song concerts harmful

Saudi Arabia's top religious authority has called cinemas and singing concerts harmful and corrupting, in a move that could complicate government efforts to introduce cultural reforms to the conservative kingdom. The comments by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, published on his website, said cinemas and round-the-clock entertainment could open the door to "atheistic or rotten" foreign films and encourage the mixing of the sexes. Cinemas and public concerts are already banned in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

Malta church goes beyond pope in remarriage guidelines

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is making clear Pope Francis supports letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion under certain conditions by publishing a set of new guidelines in the pope's own newspaper that go beyond even what he has said.

Jude Law stars as a disruptive pontiff in HBO's 'Young Pope'

Jude Law stars as a disruptive pontiff in HBO's 'Young Pope'

NEW YORK (AP) — In HBO's absorbing new drama "The Young Pope," Jude Law plays the title character, American-born Lenny Belardo, who, through divine intervention or woeful human error (this will be hotly debated), is made Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church at the tender age of 47.

Vatican seeks youth input for upcoming meeting of bishops

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is reaching out to young people for the next round of church-wide consultations, soliciting their direct input for an upcoming meeting of the world's bishops on the plight of young Catholics today and their faith.

St. Petersburg defends transfer of landmark to church

St. Petersburg defends transfer of landmark to church

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — In the latest scandal involving the powerful Russian Orthodox Church, authorities in St. Petersburg on Thursday defended a controversial decision to give a city landmark cathedral to the church.

politics

Trump Treasury nominee Mnuchin to defend banking record to senators

Trump Treasury nominee Mnuchin to defend banking record to senators

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump's choice for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, will defend his banking record in the aftermath of the financial crisis on Thursday and sell senators on why he should be given stewardship of the U.S. financial system. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, hedge fund manager and Hollywood film financier, would be the first Wall Street veteran to head the Treasury Department in eight years. In prepared testimony for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Mnuchin said accusations that his OneWest Bank was a "foreclosure machine" after the housing bubble burst were untrue and politically motivated.

Trump U.N. pick echoes his criticism but breaks from him on issues

Trump U.N. pick echoes his criticism but breaks from him on issues

By Patricia Zengerle and Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump's pick for U.N. ambassador echoed his condemnation of the world body and pledged to push for reforms at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, but broke from the president-elect on some other policy issues, including Russia and NATO. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley seconded criticism of the United Nations by Trump and many of their fellow Republicans before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, especially for what she termed its "bias" against Israel. Some Republicans want to stop U.S. funding for the United Nations over a Security Council resolution last month demanding an end to settlement building that the United States declined to veto, instead of abstaining.

Exclusive: Pentagon, Lockheed near deal on $9 billion F-35 contract - sources

Exclusive: Pentagon, Lockheed near deal on $9 billion F-35 contract - sources

The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin Corp are close to deal for a contract worth almost $9 billion as negotiations are poised to bring the price per F-35 below $100 million for the first time, people familiar with the talks said Wednesday. The F-35, the Pentagon's costliest arms program, has drawn fire from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump who has made lowering prices for military equipment a pillar of his transition into office. A Lockheed representative declined to comment and a representative for the fighter program said negotiations are ongoing.

Trump to name ex-Georgia Governor Perdue as agriculture secretary

Trump to name ex-Georgia Governor Perdue as agriculture secretary

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will name former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as his nominee for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, a senior transition official said on Wednesday. By nominating a former governor from a Southern state, Trump eschewed candidates from major Farm Belt states in the Midwest that produce the bulk of crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat which dominate agriculture exports. While Georgia governor, Perdue had to handle a severe drought in 2007, during which he took steps to cut water usage and at one point led a service outside the state capitol to pray for rain.

President Trump and the end of the American Century

President Trump and the end of the American Century

It’s inauguration week just as the Framers must have imagined it: citizenry streaming into the capital from every state to celebrate the most sober and symbolic moment in the democracy, even as the soon-to-be president tears into an American hero, fends off criticism from allies, deflects a sexual harassment suit and wails that his public approval ratings are rigged. This is how the Trump presidency begins, and the American Century ends. Any calendar will tell you, for instance, that the 19th century ended in 1901, the year President McKinley was assassinated and Teddy Roosevelt took his place.

Obama at final press conference: ‘We’re going to be OK’

Obama at final press conference: ‘We’re going to be OK’

In the hourlong question-and-answer session, Obama also defended the news media, which Trump likes to bash, and listed the political and social issues that would lead him to speak out after he leaves the White House to his successor. There were no questions about Syria, North Korea or the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama: How we talk to our daughters about Trump’s election

Obama: How we talk to our daughters about Trump’s election

President Obama concluded his final press conference as commander in chief the same way his began his candidacy for the office — with a message of hope for the United States’ future. The last question posed to Obama in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House concerned a popular speech his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, gave in October that put the stakes of the U.S. presidential election in personal terms.

Nikki Haley says Trump advisers will ‘educate’ him on foreign policy

Nikki Haley says Trump advisers will ‘educate’ him on foreign policy

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, said Wednesday that she hopes to be part of a national security team that will “educate” Trump, and that she wants to change Trump’s mind about the importance of the organization. “I will show him that the U.N. matters," she said.

Obama points to Jim Crow roots of restrictions to voting rights

Obama points to Jim Crow roots of restrictions to voting rights

Speaking Wednesday at his final White House press conference, President Obama offered a reminder of the racist history behind some U.S. voting restrictions. President Obama speaks during his final presidential news conference. In recent years, a number of Republican-controlled state governments have instituted restrictions like those requiring voters to carry identification.

How Trump's EPA Pick, Scott Pruitt, Has Favored State Over Federal Authority on the Environment

How Trump's EPA Pick, Scott Pruitt, Has Favored State Over Federal Authority on the Environment

As Scott Pruitt, President-elect Trump's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, testifies before the Senate today for his confirmation hearing, many pundits have noted that, if approved, he would make an unconventional administrator, largely because of the degree to which he built parts of his career fighting the very regulatory enforcement agency he would be tasked with running. Pruitt, along with other parties, has sued the EPA more than a dozen times during his career as Oklahoma's attorney general, attempting to block the EPA's authority to enforce clean air, clean water and climate regulations.

'King of Bankruptcy' Wilbur Ross Grilled on Trade, Climate Change and Infrastructure During Confirmation Hearing

'King of Bankruptcy' Wilbur Ross Grilled on Trade, Climate Change and Infrastructure During Confirmation Hearing

Ross, who says he favors bilateral trade agreements rather than multilateral pacts, was briefly interrupted by two protestors who were quickly escorted out of the room after they shouted about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Ross said he was initially in favor of the 12-country trade agreement that has stalled in the face of bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill. "I think we cannot afford trade that is inherently bad for American workers and for American businesses ... and I think the number one objective would be expanding our exports," Ross testified.

GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out

GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican governors who turned down billions in federal dollars from an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law now have their hand out in hopes the GOP Congress comes up with a new formula to provide health insurance for lower-income Americans.

Inaugural Things to Watch: the speech, the dress and more

Inaugural Things to Watch: the speech, the dress and more

WASHINGTON (AP) — From a morning stop at church through the swearing-in to the last dance of the evening, it's going to be an inaugural marathon on Friday. Donald Trump will take Washington by storm, no matter what the weather. (Which, by the way, looks like rain.)

Hazlewood puts brakes on Pakistan in third ODI

Hazlewood puts brakes on Pakistan in third ODI

Pakistan set Australia a target of 264 to win but squandered the opportunity to post a big score in the third one-day international at Perth's WACA Ground on Thursday. With the five-match series level at 1-1 Pakistan looked to be building to a massive score in excess of 300 after being asked to bat by Australia captain Steven Smith. On a flat wicket ideal for batting they had raced along at better than six runs an over, but the steady loss of wickets eventually slowed them and Pakistan finished with a disappointing 263 for seven from their 50 overs.

Australia hails buy back of national spread Vegemite

Australia hails buy back of national spread Vegemite

Vegemite, the salty yeast-based spread beloved by Australians, is returning Down Under after decades of US ownership. An acquired taste for the foreign palate, Vegemite on toast is a staple found on most Australian breakfast tables, and its fans now range from prime ministers to celebrity chefs. Cheese maker Bega announced the Aus$460 million (US$346 million) purchase on Thursday of most of US-based Mondelez International's Australia and New Zealand grocery business, which includes the tarry sandwich filling.

Hamas halts electricity protests, but anger remains

Hamas halts electricity protests, but anger remains

The 25-year-old nicknamed Guevara because of his admiration for the Latin American revolutionary had returned to his home in Gaza after days of hiding, but was not giving up. In a mock army jacket and with a Che Guevara-like beard, Mohammed Al-Taluli was being greeted by dozens of supporters from his neighbourhood of Jabalia, a crowded, overgrown refugee camp north of Gaza City.

Starting gun fired in race to succeed S.Africa's Zuma

Starting gun fired in race to succeed S.Africa's Zuma

South Africa's ruling ANC party, which has dominated the country's politics since the end of apartheid, has begun its search for a new leader to succeed President Jacob Zuma. The contenders will face each other at the African National Congress' (ANC) 54th national elective conference in December when Zuma is expected to stand down as party chief. The likely frontrunners are outgoing African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is Zuma's former wife, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

ECB enters 2017 in battle to hold steady course

ECB enters 2017 in battle to hold steady course

The European Central Bank will not deviate from its ultra-loose monetary policy at its first 2017 meeting Thursday, analysts predicted, in the face of calls to tighten from critics alarmed by rising inflation. Policymakers at the Frankfurt institution chose in December to keep interest rates at historic lows and extend mass bond-buying from March to December this year, albeit slowing the purchases from 80 to 60 billion euros ($85 to $64 billion) per month from April. "Uncertainty prevails everywhere," ECB president Mario Draghi said at his December 8 press conference.

Mali car bomb kills 50 in fresh blow to peace efforts

Mali car bomb kills 50 in fresh blow to peace efforts

A suicide bombing targeting militia groups committed to restoring peace in Mali left around 50 people dead and struck a fresh blow at long-running efforts to stabilise the troubled north. The car bomb attack on Wednesday in Gao, the region's biggest city, targeted a camp housing former rebels and pro-government militia who are signatories to a 2015 peace accord struck with the government. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita ordered three days of national mourning following the attack, the worst in the country in recent years.

African troops on standby as Gambia deadline expires

African troops on standby as Gambia deadline expires

Senegalese troops backed by other African forces were poised to enter The Gambia Thursday after President Yahya Jammeh refused to leave office, ignoring a midnight deadline to stand down or face military action. Jammeh's army chief said his troops would not fight their entry into the country, as the Mauritanian president flew out of The Gambia following hopes of a last-minute deal to convince Jammeh to hand over power. This is a political dispute," Chief of Defence Staff Ousman Badjie said after eating dinner in a tourist district close to the capital Banjul, eyewitnesses told AFP.

CIA cites new rules on protecting privacy

CIA cites new rules on protecting privacy

The CIA said Wednesday it would implement new rules to better respect the private information of Americans swept up incidentally during its investigations. The new restrictions imposed by the US attorney general just two days before Donald Trump become president will force the CIA, whose mission is to focus on foreign issues and threats, to dispose of the personal data of Americans it comes across during its probes within five years. Until now, under a 1981 executive order by then president Ronald Reagan, there were loose restrictions on how the spy agency handles that data.

North Korea preparing to test new missiles: report

North Korea preparing to test new missiles: report

North Korea is preparing to test new rockets, a report said Thursday, after its leader Kim Jong-Un said the country was in the final stages of developing inter-continental ballistic missiles. Pyongyang's missile programme and its pursuit of nuclear arms have seen it repeatedly sanctioned by the UN Security Council. Quoting high-level South Korean officials and South Korean and US military sources, the South's Yonhap news agency said two new missiles had been loaded onto mobile launchers.

Voices of Americans on Trump's inauguration

Voices of Americans on Trump's inauguration

As Donald Trump prepares to take the helm of a divided nation, Americans across the political spectrum are looking to the inauguration of their 45th president with wildly different expectations -- ranging from excitement and elation to despondency and dread. "I hope he stays true to kind of who he is.

Wall Street getting scant guarantees as Trump takes office

Wall Street getting scant guarantees as Trump takes office

Wall Street caught fire following President-elect Donald Trump's shock White House win in November, but will this largely speculative run fizzle out after Trump takes office on Friday? Since Trump's victory, major stock indices in New York have experienced two phases: they rallied for a month, repeatedly smashing records, and then stalled toward the New Year, though holding on to unprecedented gains.

The business world falls under Trump's thumb

The business world falls under Trump's thumb

With his carrot-and-stick manhandling of the US business community, President-elect Donald Trump has major companies falling over themselves to offer goodwill gestures and promises to create US jobs. This aggressive strategy -- in which Trump has publicly threatened major corporations over the use of foreign labor -- has sent ripples through a country that reveres free enterprise and is not accustomed to seeing the nation's chief executive go mano a mano with individual businesses. Automaker General Motors and the retail giant Wal-Mart Stores on Tuesday joined the growing list of companies that have promised to ramp investment and employment in the United States since Trump began his post-election campaign against off-shoring US jobs.

Obama, after office: writing, minorities and Democrats

Obama, after office: writing, minorities and Democrats

At 55, Obama will be a year younger than Bill Clinton when he leaves office on Friday. America's first black president says he has no intention of getting involved in the "day-to-day scrum" of political life once he leaves the White House. In the short term, after Trump takes the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol at noon Friday, Obama will head on vacation with his wife Michelle and two teenage daughters Malia and Sasha.

Migrants race to reach US before Trump takes over

Migrants race to reach US before Trump takes over

Migrants trying to sneak into the United States from the parched Mexican desert have to contend with border guards' drones overhead, poisonous snakes underfoot and human trafficking gangs at their backs. In the town of Caborca near the frontier, a group of Hondurans warm themselves by a fire of trash in the early morning cold. Getting to the United States before Trump takes control was more important.

Trump could enact sweeping changes to environment policy: experts

Trump could enact sweeping changes to environment policy: experts

President-elect Donald Trump could enact sweeping changes to environmental policy in the beginning days of his administration, with far-reaching effects both in the United States and around the world, experts say. A key pledge of his during the campaign was to "cancel" the 2015 Paris accord, but during confirmation hearings this month, his nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said he felt it was important for the United States to stay at the table. If Trump does decide to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which saw more than 190 world leaders agree to lower emissions that lead to global warming, he could do that "on his own," said Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

The pink 'pussyhat': symbol of challenge to Trump

The pink 'pussyhat': symbol of challenge to Trump

New York actress Wendy Peace is learning to knit for the first time -- for a cause. More than 60,000 hats have already been made for the Women's March planned the day after Trump's inauguration in the nation's capital, with thousands more on the way. The PussyHat Project all began when two California women went online to post a knitting pattern for a "unique collective visual statement" for the march, which is being attended by the likes of Katy Perry, Julianne Moore and Cher.

Media girds for battle with Trump White House

Media girds for battle with Trump White House

Donald Trump and the media are digging in for what could be a long and bitter war. The president-elect, whose spent much of his campaign at loggerheads with the mainstream press, has been sharpening his attacks, and the news media is bracing for what some see as a looming campaign of intimidation. While many US presidents have had strained relations with the media, Trump has made maligning the press a core element of his message, foreshadowing a stormy relationship for the years to come.

IS lost nearly a quarter of its territory in 2016: report

IS lost nearly a quarter of its territory in 2016: report

The Islamic State group lost nearly a quarter of its territory in Iraq and Syria last year, according to a report released Thursday by research firm IHS Markit. Between early January 2016 and the end of the year the Islamic State's self-declared "caliphate" fell from 78,000 to 60,400 square kilometres (47,500 to 38,500 square miles ), IHS Markit said. “The Islamic State suffered unprecedented territorial losses in 2016, including key areas vital for the group’s governance project,” said Columb Strack, head of IHS's Conflict Monitor.

Mali car bomb kills 50 in fresh blow to peace

Mali car bomb kills 50 in fresh blow to peace

A suicide bombing targeting militia groups committed to restoring peace in Mali left around 50 people dead Wednesday and struck a fresh blow at long-running efforts to stabilise the troubled north. The car bomb attack in Gao, the region's biggest city, targeted a camp housing former rebels and pro-government militia who are signatories to a 2015 peace accord struck with the government. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita ordered three days of national mourning following the attack, the worst in the country in recent years.

crime-trials

Pentagon chief says he opposed cutting Manning's prison term

Pentagon chief says he opposed cutting Manning's prison term

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday he had opposed commuting the prison sentence of convicted leaker Chelsea Manning, who was convicted in 2013 of espionage and other crimes for leaking classified information while deployed in Iraq.

Alanis Morissette manager admits he stole $5 million

Alanis Morissette manager admits he stole $5 million

The manager of rocker Alanis Morissette has admitted to fleecing the singer of nearly $5 million and falsely claiming the money was used to grow marijuana. Jonathan Todd Schwartz agreed to plead guilty to embezzling the money in court papers filed in Los Angeles federal court. Schwartz admitted that between May 2010 and January 2014 he withdrew about $4.8 million from Morissette's account without her knowledge and labeled the unauthorized cash withdrawals as "sundry/personal expenses" on accounting records.

Orlando gunman's widow pleads not guilty to aiding husband

Orlando gunman's widow pleads not guilty to aiding husband

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The widow of the Orlando nightclub gunman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of aiding and abetting her husband's support of the Islamic State group and hindering the investigation of the attack that killed 49 people and injured 53 others.

Guatemala leader's son and brother arrested on corruption charges

Guatemala leader's son and brother arrested on corruption charges

A son and a brother of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales were arrested Wednesday on corruption charges over suspected fraud in a state food contract, officials said. The detentions were a potential embarrassment for Morales, a former TV comedian who became president a year ago on vows to clean up rampant graft in his country. Sammy Morales, one of the president's three brothers and reportedly the closest to him after co-producing his TV show for 15 years, was arrested as part of an investigation into the $12,000 food contract, attorney general Thelma Aldana told the Guatevision television network.

Orlando shooter's widow pleads not guilty

Orlando shooter's widow pleads not guilty

The widow of the gunman behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges she aided her husband in planning the attack. Noor Salman, 30, entered her plea at a hearing in federal court in northern California where she was arrested on Monday in relation to last year's assault by her husband Omar Mateen. The judge in the case ordered that she be held pending a bail hearing on February 1.

Obama says reducing leaker Chelsea Manning's prison term serves justice

Obama says reducing leaker Chelsea Manning's prison term serves justice

By Jeff Mason and Dustin Volz WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had served a tough prison term and his decision to commute her 35-year sentence to about seven years served would not signal leniency toward leakers of U.S. government secrets. Obama told his final news conference as president that he felt it made sense to commute Manning's sentence because she went to trial, took responsibility for her crime and her sentence was disproportionate to those received by other leakers. "Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence," Obama said of his decision to reduce her sentence, which was announced Tuesday in a batch of 209 commutations and 64 pardons granted.

Wife of Florida nightclub gunman pleads not guilty to aiding attack

The wife of the gunman in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges she assisted him ahead of the fatal shooting of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida and later misleading authorities. Noor Salman, 30, aided and abetted husband Omar Mateen in his attempt to provide material support to a terrorist organization, federal prosecutors said. Salman, the first person charged by U.S. authorities in connection with the attack, faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Ex-New York state senator sentenced to five years in prison

A former New York state senator was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison for seeking to obstruct a federal investigation into whether he had embezzled proceeds from sales of foreclosed properties. John Sampson, 51, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry in Brooklyn, where the Democrat had been a state senator from 1997 until his conviction in July 2015 on charges that he obstructed justice and made false statements. A spokesman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers confirmed the sentence, which also included a $75,000 fine.

Bollywood actor Salman Khan acquitted in weapons case

Bollywood actor Salman Khan acquitted in weapons case

An Indian court on Wednesday acquitted Bollywood movie star Salman Khan of possessing an unlicensed weapon nearly two decades ago, ending a case that threatened to derail the career of one of the country's biggest actors. Khan, 51, had been charged with possessing and using an unlicensed weapon to kill an endangered gazelle in 1998 on a hunting trip in the desert state of Rajasthan, where he was filming the movie "Hum Saath Saath Hain" (We Stand United). The actor could have faced up to seven years in jail if found guilty of possessing an unlicensed gun.

Iran female bodybuilder arrested for un-Islamic photos

Iran female bodybuilder arrested for un-Islamic photos

An Iranian bodybuilder has been arrested for publishing revealing photos of herself on social media, the judiciary's news agency reported on Wednesday. "One of the female bodybuilders who recently published nude photographs on social networks has been arrested," the agency said. In Iran, "nude" can refer to any woman who is not wearing a headscarf or revealing parts of her body such as arms and legs that must be covered in public.

Czech fugitive wanted for spreading HIV held in Thailand

Czech fugitive wanted for spreading HIV held in Thailand

A Czech fugitive wanted in his homeland for knowingly spreading HIV to multiple victims has been arrested on a Thai resort island after living in the country for more than a year, police said Wednesday. Zdenek Pfeifer, 49, was detained at his apartment on the island of Phuket on Tuesday evening, Thai Interpol said in a statement. "Thai police will contact Czech Interpol once he has been prosecuted for local violations," Thai Interpol said, adding he was arrested for illegally overstaying his visa.