In Brief | Nation & World, February 10, 2014


Rules eased for refugees who gave ‘limited’ support to terrorists, groups

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has eased the rules for would-be asylum-seekers, refugees and others who hope to come to the United States or stay here and who gave “limited” support to terrorists or terrorist groups.

The change is one of President Barack Obama’s first actions on immigration since he pledged during his State of the Union address last month to use more executive directives.

The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department now say that people considered to have provided “limited material support” to terrorists or terrorist groups are no longer automatically barred from the United States.

A post-Sept. 11 provision in immigrant law, known as terrorism related inadmissibility grounds, had affected anyone considered to have given support. With little exception, the provision has been applied rigidly to those trying to enter the U.S. and those already here but wanting to change their immigration status.

Over 600 evacuated from Syrian city of Homs in rare cease-fire

BEIRUT — Hundreds of civilians were evacuated Sunday from the besieged Syrian city of Homs, braving gunmen spraying bullets and lobbing mortar shells to flee as part of a rare three-day truce to relieve a choking blockade. Dozens were wounded as they fled.

The cease-fire came as Syrian officials arrived in Switzerland for a new round of talks with opposition activists-in-exile to try to negotiate an end to Syria’s three-year conflict.

More than 600 people were evacuated from Homs on Sunday, said Governor Talal Barrazi. The operation was part of a U.N.-mediated truce that began Friday between the government of President Bashar Assad and armed rebels to allow thousands of women, children and elderly men to leave opposition-held parts of the city, and to permit the entry of food and supplies. Forces loyal to Assad have blockaded rebel-held parts of Homs for over a year, causing widespread hunger and suffering.

Liberals eye Hillary Clinton for signs on how she might govern

WASHINGTON — As Hillary Rodham Clinton mulls a second presidential bid, liberals are closely watching whether the onetime supporter of the Iraq war moves to the left or straddles the center.

Democrats say economic issues such as raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security have become paramount for anyone aiming to lead the party after years of tough economic times.

During the 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama, Clinton was hurt by her stand on the Iraq war while she was a senator. But she burnished her image among party loyalists during four years at the State Department in the Obama administration. Now liberals want to see how she might carry the torch from Obama.

“We’re going to see income inequality play the same role that the war in Iraq played in 2008,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group. “This is less about what she did before. The issue landscape right now is very different than in 2008.”

Ruling party-backed candidate wins Tokyo governor race

TOKYO ­ — Yoichi Masuzoe, a former health minister backed by Japan’s ruling party, easily won Tokyo’s gubernatorial election Sunday, defeating two candidates who had promised to end nuclear power.

The ballot was widely seen as a test for Japan’s public opinion on atomic power in a nation shaken by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Masuzoe, 65, was backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to restart Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors. Masuzoe received 2.1 million votes, more than the combined total of the two anti-nuclear candidates, who finished second and third. With the city cleaning up from a rare snowstorm, turnout was a low 46.1 percent, down from 62.6 in the previous vote.

The anti-nuclear candidates, human rights lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, advocated an immediate end to nuclear power.

“The Fukushima disaster has left me without words, but reducing our dependence on nuclear power needs to be done gradually,” Masuzoe said after his victory.

By wire sources