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Very undiplomatic row could hit US courts

The professional body for diplomats has given the State Department until Thursday to certify that all nominees for plum US ambassadorships are competent to serve, amid anger over the number of political appointees. Otherwise, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) says it will sue the US administration to force it to prove that all the nominees have so-called "certificates of demonstrated competence."

Sperling, Obama's quirky and loquacious economic aide, makes exit

By Steve Holland and Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It seems fitting that Gene Sperling, a White House economic aide with a taste for the theatrical, is heading to Hollywood when he ends his latest West Wing tenure this week. Sperling is exiting stage left to cap a combined 12 years as an economic adviser to Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, a remarkable show of stamina given the punishing hours and sharp elbows in Washington.

Republican Cruz puts Clinton odds of White House win at 40 percent

By Thomas Ferraro WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Tea Party favorite seen as a potential 2016 presidential contender, on Thursday put Democrat Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the White House at 40 percent. "The media thinks she is unstoppable, but they also thought she was unstoppable in the 2008 Democratic primary," which Barack Obama won en route to the White House, Cruz said of the former secretary of state and wife of two-term U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Obama image tarnished in new poll

Almost six in 10 Americans express disappointment with Barack Obama's presidency, according to a new poll, which also shows Republicans with the edge heading into mid-term elections in November. The survey, by CBS News and the New York Times, also found that 82 percent of Democratic voters want Hillary Clinton to make another White House run in 2016. Obama's popularity continues to thin, according to the survey, which puts his approval rating at 41 percent with 57 percent of those asked saying they actively disapprove of his performance.

Obama image tarnished in new poll

Almost six in 10 Americans express disappointment with Barack Obama's presidency, according to a new poll, which also shows Republicans with the edge heading into mid-term elections in November. The survey, by CBS News and the New York Times, also found that 82 percent of Democratic voters want Hillary Clinton to make another White House run in 2016. Obama's popularity continues to thin, according to the survey, which puts his approval rating at 41 percent with 57 percent of those asked saying they actively disapprove of his performance.

Turkey's Gul approves law tightening Internet controls

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday he had approved a new law tightening control of the Internet, in a move bolstering embattled Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan but raising concerns about free speech. Gul said on his Twitter account he gave his approval after the government announced it would push through parliament an amendment of the new legislation in response to the president's concerns regarding two articles in the law. (Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Alison Williams)

Kerry says Obama seeks Syria options, none presented yet

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that President Barack Obama had again asked for policy options on Syria but that none have yet been presented to him. Kerry told reporters Obama was concerned about the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Syria and also by the fact that peace talks between the opposition and government had not produced a discussion of a transitional government as had been planned.

Beleaguered Hollande heads to US to boost French economy

President Francois Hollande begins a three-day visit to the United States on Monday, hoping to leave scandal behind as he seeks to shore up business ties and revive France's stagnant economy. Deeply unpopular at home and fresh from a much-publicised split with longtime girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler, Hollande will be hosted for a state dinner and talks with President Barack Obama before jetting to California to meet tech leaders.

Rice briefs Brazilian FM on spying reforms

Brazil's Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo secured a White House explanation of new US spying policies Thursday, after his nation reacted with outrage to revelations by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden. Figueiredo was briefed on reforms of National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping programs proposed by President Barack Obama, by the president's national security advisor Susan Rice.

Rice briefs Brazilian FM on spying reforms

Brazil's Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Thursday secured a White House explanation of new US spying policies, after his nation reacted with outrage to revelations by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden. Figueiredo was briefed on reforms of National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping programs proposed by President Barack Obama, by the president's national security advisor Susan Rice.
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