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On the Calendar:  Thursday, 3/5/2015 11:00 AM
~Red Beans & Blues Brunch~: DUE TO WEATHER: This event has been moved back to March 5. Join the Union Arts Council and the Union Parish Library as we host a Red Beans and Blues Brunch with local blues artist Slim Finley. Calendar

World News
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Obama, Israel's Netanyahu clash over Iran diplomacy

By Jeff Mason, Dan Williams and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu clashed over Iran nuclear diplomacy on Monday on the eve of the Israeli prime ministers hotly disputed address to Congress, underscoring the severity of U.S.-Israeli strains over the issue. Neither gave any ground ahead of Netanyahus speech to Congress on Tuesday when he plans to detail his objections to ongoing talks between Iran and world powers that he says will inevitably allow Tehran to become a nuclear-armed state.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:26:52 -0500
Exclusive: Obama says Iran must halt key nuclear work for at least a decade

U.S. President Obama speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in WashingtonBy Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached, but the odds are still against sealing a final agreement, U.S. President Barack Obama told Reuters on Monday. Interviewed at the White House, Obama moved to dial back tensions over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech to Congress on Tuesday opposing the Iran deal, saying it was a distraction that would not be "permanently destructive" to U.S. Israeli ties. Talks between major powers and Iran to restrict Tehran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for an easing of sanctions have reached a critical stage ahead of an end of March deadline for a framework deal and a June 30 date for a final agreement.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:36:03 -0500
U.S. spy chief says 40 Americans who went to Syria have returned

Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New YorkAbout 180 Americans have traveled to Syria to join Islamist militants and around 40 of them have returned to the United States, the U.S. National Intelligence director, James Clapper, said on Monday. Clapper said not all those who went to Syria, where Islamic State militants and other factions are fighting each other and the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, had engaged in the Islamist campaign. Some might have been aid workers, he said. The United States and its allies believe that more than 20,000 foreign fighters from more than 90 countries have gone to Syria.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:30:02 -0500
Exclusive: Obama sharply criticizes China's plans for new technology rules

U.S. President Obama speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in WashingtonBy Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday sharply criticized China's plans for new rules on U.S. tech companies, urging Beijing to change the policy if it wants to do business with the United States and saying he had raised it with President Xi Jinping. In an interview with Reuters, Obama said he was concerned about Beijing's plans for a far-reaching counterterrorism law that would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys, the passcodes that help protect data, and install security "backdoors" in their systems to give Chinese authorities surveillance access. "This is something that Ive raised directly with President Xi," Obama said. "We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States." The Chinese government sees the rules as crucial to protect state and business secrets.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:07:05 -0500
Cuba signals readiness to fast-track U.S. diplomatic ties

The head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, appears at a news conference in WashingtonBy David Adams and Daniel Trotta MIAMI/HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba is willing to restore diplomatic relations with the United States as soon as the Obama administration declares its intent to take the country off a list of state sponsors of terrorism, according to a senior Cuban official. That could take place before both sides are ready to open embassies, Josefina Vidal, the head of the United States division at the Cuban Foreign Ministry told state media. It is the first time Cuba has said publicly it is willing to restore relations before it is removed from the list. ...

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:40:05 -0500
Exclusive: Obama hopes for U.S. embassy in Cuba before April summit in Panama

U.S. President Obama speaks during an interview with Reuters at the White House in WashingtonBy Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that he hopes the United States will open an embassy in Cuba by the time of a Western Hemisphere summit in Panama in mid-April. In an interview with Reuters, Obama also cautioned that it will take more time to fully establish normal relations with Cuba after more than a half-century rupture. "My hope is that we will be able to open an embassy, and that some of the initial groundwork will have been laid" before the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Obama said. ...

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:22:33 -0500
Netanyahu assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties

Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, March 2, 2015, in Geneva. Kerry discussed ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, and tensions with Russia over Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON (AP) Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. officials cast their dispute over Iran as a family squabble on Monday, even as the Israeli leader claimed President Barack Obama did not and could not fully understand his nation's vital security concerns.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:25:31 -0500
Obama aide: Congress should not 'play spoiler' in Iran nuclear talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice warned U.S. lawmakers on Monday not to seek new sanctions against Iran while it is in talks with world powers on curbing its nuclear program, saying such intervention could ruin the diplomacy. "Congress has played a hugely important role in helping to build our sanctions on Iran but they shouldn't play the spoiler now," she said in a speech to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. Her remarks came ahead of a speech to Congress on Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to argue against U.S. ...

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:06:09 -0500
UK's Cameron says child sex abuse to be classified 'national threat'

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron gestures as he delivers a speech in HastingsBritish Prime Minister David Cameron will make child sexual abuse a national priority on a par with organized crime on Tuesday, as he announces a series of measures to prevent systematic abuse. Britain has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse revelations, including a case in Rotherham, northern England, where some 1,400 children, some as young as 11, were abused by gangs of predominantly Asian men. Classifying child sexual abuse as a national threat will create a duty for police forces to collaborate across regions to safeguard children, Cameron's office said. Cameron will also announce other measures to improve coordination between public bodies and a helpline to encourage whistleblowers.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:04:38 -0500
Foreign talks to Congress often a yawn, but not Netanyahu's

FILE - In this May 24, 2011 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. Given anywhere else, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus speech Tuesday wouldnt cause such a fuss. But a foreign leader denouncing U.S. policy from within the grand hall of American democracy upends nearly two centuries of tradition. A joint meeting of Congress, gathering senators and representatives together in the House chamber, is a ceremony typically bestowed on one or two friendly foreign leaders per year. It looks a lot like a presidential State of the Union address. The speaker embodies his or her nation; the audience of lawmakers represents all Americans. Vice President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, listen. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech Tuesday has already roiled Washington.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:03:56 -0500
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