With Obama unpopular in many states, former President Clinton to help Democrats in 2014 races
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bill Clinton, popular in territory unfriendly to President Barack Obama, is reprising his role as a super-surrogate for Democrats battling to keep their Senate majority and win other races. In the long run, Clinton could pick up political chits for his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, should she run for president in 2016.
The political terrain is rough in these Senate battleground states. Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is unpopular. Obama himself has soft poll numbers. Many Democrats won’t appear with the president, even though they’ll accept his prodigious fundraising help.
Not so with Clinton, who appears Tuesday in Louisville, Ky., with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who’s trying to unseat Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. It’s perhaps the nation’s hardest-fought Senate race in a state where Obama would be of little help.
Clinton is the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry a swath of Southern states crucial to the 2014 midterms, including his native Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana. The former president remains in heavy demand as a fundraiser and adviser as his wife plans an upcoming book tour and considers how she may help Democrats this year.
"He has an open invitation from me," Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat challenging GOP Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said of Clinton.
Ukraine authorities issue arrest warrant for
missing president, Russia condemns new leaders
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) -- With Viktor Yanukovych on the run, Ukraine’s interim government drew up a warrant Monday for the fugitive president’s arrest in the killing of anti-government protesters last week, while Russia issued its strongest condemnation yet of the new leaders in Kiev, deriding them as "Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks."
Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, the interim president, moved quickly to open a dialogue with the West, saying at a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that the course toward closer integration with Europe and financial assistance from the EU were "key factors of stable and democratic development of Ukraine."
In a statement released by his office, Turchinov said Ukraine and the EU should immediately revisit the closer ties that Yanukovych abandoned in November in favor of a $15 billion bailout loan from Russia that set off a wave of protests. Within weeks, the protests expanded to include outrage over corruption and human rights abuses, leading to calls for Yanukovych’s resignation.
Yanukovych, who fled Kiev on Saturday after the opposition took over government buildings, has reportedly gone to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russia area.
Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and family, and cracked down on protesters. Anger boiled over last week after 82 people, primarily demonstrators, were killed in clashes with security forces in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.
Arizona governor faces mounting pressure over bill allowing businesses
to deny service to gays
PHOENIX (AP) -- Republican Gov. Jan Brewer faced intensifying pressure Monday from CEOs, politicians in Washington and state lawmakers in her own party to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians.
Senate Bill 1062 has set off a political firestorm since the Arizona Legislature passed it last week, with critics denouncing the measure as blatantly discriminatory and embarrassing to the state.
The chorus of opposition has grown each day, and on Monday, three state senators who voted in favor of the bill changed course and said they oppose it. U.S. Sen. John McCain asked Brewer to veto the measure, as did the CEO of American Airlines.
State Sens. Bob Worsley, Adam Driggs and Steve Pierce sent their letter urging a veto just days after they joined the entire 17-member Senate GOP caucus in voting for the bill.
"I think laws are (already) on the books that we need, and have now seen the ramifications of my vote," Worsley told The Associated Press. "I feel very bad, and it was a mistake."
Uganda’s president signs anti-gay bill in defiance of Western pressure; prison looms for gays
ENTEBBE, Uganda (AP) -- Uganda’s president on Monday signed an anti-gay bill that punishes gay sex with up to life in prison, a measure likely to send Uganda’s beleaguered gay community further underground as the police try to implement it amid fevered anti-gay sentiment across the country.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said the bill, which goes into effect immediately, was needed because the West is promoting homosexuality in Africa.
Museveni may have defied Western pressure to shelve the bill, four years and many versions after it was introduced, but his move -- likely to galvanize support ahead of presidential elections -- pleased many Ugandans who repeatedly urged him to sign the legislation.
Nigeria’s president similarly signed an anti-gay bill into law just over a month ago, sparking increased violence against gays who already were persecuted in mob attacks. Some watchdog groups warn a similar backlash of violence may occur in Uganda.
"Experience from other jurisdictions with similarly draconian laws, such as Nigeria or Russia, indicates that their implementation is often followed by a surge in violence against individuals thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said in a statement Monday. "The Ugandan government has not indicated any plans to counter such violence or to investigate potential allegations of abuse."
Drug lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzman charged inside Mexican prison, swift extradition to U.S. unlikely
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Lawyers for drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman have filed an appeal seeking an injunction against any attempt to extradite him to the United States, a federal court announced Monday.
Mexican drug suspects have used such appeals in the past to delay extraditions for months or even years, though most eventually lose the appeals.
On Sunday, Guzman was also formally charged with violations of Mexico’s drug-trafficking laws, starting a legal trial process in Mexico that would also make a swift extradition to the U.S. less likely.
Guzman was charged with cocaine trafficking Sunday inside a maximum-security prison outside the nation’s capital, Mexico’s Federal Judicial Council announced. A judge has until Tuesday to decide whether to release him or start the process of bringing him to trial. Authorities believe the judge will launch the trial process, a Mexican federal official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
Guzman can appeal the judge’s decision, a process that typically takes weeks or months, and in the past top drug suspects have often strung out appeals against extradition for months or years. Prominent trial lawyer Juan Velasquez, who has represented former Mexican presidents, said appeals "can delay it, but Mexico has removed a lot of the obstacles to extraditing people."
Egypt’s Cabinet resigns in surprise move; may pave way for military chief’s presidential run
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt’s interim Cabinet resigned Monday in a surprise move that could pave the way for the nation’s military chief to announce his widely anticipated plans to run for president in the spring.
The resignation, announced by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi in a televised statement, came amid a wave of labor strikes over the government’s failure to fix the economy and rising popular anger nearly a year after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the military.
The Cabinet will remain in office in a caretaking capacity until a new one is formed. Its resignation fueled speculation that the military chief, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, will soon announce a presidential bid.
The 59-year-old career infantry officer, who has been defense minister since Morsi named him to the Cabinet post in August 2012, has already secured the support of Egypt’s top military body, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to seek the presidency.
Military and security officials said the British- and U.S.-trained el-Sissi has been working with a team of advisers on a program of action that he intends to announce when he declares his candidacy. Making the announcement against a backdrop of rising popular anger and harsh media criticism of el-Beblawi would not have looked good for el-Sissi.
Madoff’s former secretary testifies at that she didn’t know about Ponzi scheme
NEW YORK (AP) -- Imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff’s longtime secretary defended herself from the witness stand Monday, telling a Manhattan jury about a 40-year career working unwittingly alongside a historic Ponzi scheme that began when she recognized through Madoff’s stutter on her first day that he wanted a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch.
"He gave me a thumbs up and said: ‘You’ll do really good here,"’ Annette Bongiorno recalled as she became the second defendant to testify among five defendants charged with helping Madoff cheat thousands of investors of nearly $20 billion. She said she could figure out what Madoff wanted through his stutter because a family member had one, too.
But she insisted repeatedly under questioning from her attorney, Roland Riopelle, that her ability to decipher unspoken words stopped short of realizing Madoff’s fraud in an office where Madoff, Bongiorno and their colleagues often repeated his mantra never to speak of his operations and his work on behalf of clients.
The fraud collapsed in December 2008 when the former Nasdaq chairman confessed to family and the FBI that his seemingly endless ability to turn double-digit profits for his investors was phony and his accounts were nearly empty as scores of investors frightened by the economic collapse demanded redemptions. He is serving a 150-year prison sentence.
Just after Bongiorno went to the witness stand with a water bottle in hand, her lawyer asked her if she knew her longtime boss was running a Ponzi scheme.