Politics

Albanese elected Australia's leader in complex poll result

Australians awoke to a new prime minister in Anthony Albanese, the center-left Labor Party leader whose ascension to the nation’s top job from being raised in social housing by a single mother on a disability pension was said to reflect the country's changed fabric. It's unclear whether Albanese’s party could form a majority government or will have to rely on an increased number of independents and minor party candidates who won seats in Saturday’s election. With counting set to continue for many days as postal votes are tallied, one prospect is for Albanese to be sworn in as acting prime minister to attend Tuesday’s Quad summit in Tokyo with U.S., Japanese and Indian leaders. President Joe Biden congratulated Albanese in a phone call Sunday.

Austria's president seeks reelection after turbulent term

Austria’s 78-year-old president says he will seek reelection later this year, following a term that has seen him pilot the Alpine country through repeated political upheaval. Alexander Van der Bellen, a liberal politician who once led the Green party, said on Twitter that Austria and Europe face turbulent times because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and economic aftershocks of both of them and the challenges of fighting climate change. It’s not yet clear who he will face in the election, whose date hasn’t been set. The Austrian president, who has a six-year term, is largely ceremonial but plays a prominent role in times of domestic political crisis.

Arkansas governor is odd man out in his own state's primary

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is Arkansas' top Republican and is entering the final stretch of his term with strong approval ratings. Yet he's been conspicuously absent from his state's primary campaigns. Other top GOP figures, like former President Donald Trump, Sen. Tom Cotton and Sarah Sanders, are instead frequenting the state's airwaves leading up to Tuesday's election. Cotton and Sanders are making pitches for Sen. John Boozman as he fends off challenges from the hard right. Sanders is relying on her experience as Trump's press secretary in her bid to succeed Hutchinson as governor. It's a sign of how much Hutchinson's GOP has changed.

Russia presses Donbas offensive as Polish leader visits Kyiv

Poland’s president has traveled to Kyiv to support Ukraine's goal of becoming a candidate for European Union membership. Polish President Andrzej Duda on Sunday became the first foreign leader to address the Ukrainian parliament since Russia invaded Ukraine. Lawmakers stood to applaud Duda, who thanked them for the honor of speaking in a place where “the heart of a free, independent and democratic Ukraine beats.” Duda’s visit came as Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in scattered battles along a 551-kilometer (342-mile) wedge of the country’s eastern industrial heartland. The Russian military launched airstrikes and missile attacks in the Donbas region, seeking to expand the territory Moscow-backed separatists have held since 2014.

Climate to conflict, Davos' post-COVID return has full plate

The much-ballyhooed World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos gets underway this week after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There's no shortage of issues to keep elite policymakers, business gurus and activists busy as forum organizers hope those groups try to work toward improving the state of the world. Ukraine's war, climate change and the yawning gaps between rich and poor are some of the themes to be tackled in roughly 270 panel discussions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be participating by video, while other world leaders and notables like U.S. climate envoy John Kerry are set to take part.

Offices including secretary of state contested in Alabama

The campaigns for U.S. Senate and governor have gotten the most attention leading up to Tuesday’s primary in Alabama. But other contested races are on the ballot. Four Republicans and one Democrat are on the primary ballot to succeed GOP incumbent John Merrill as Alabama’s top elections officer, secretary of state. A runoff is possible on the Republican side. The ballot also includes statewide races for attorney general, state auditor and an Alabama Supreme Court seat. Voters also will decide a constitutional amendment to fund work on state parks and historical sites.

GOP candidate's security clearance becomes issue in SC

Republican Katie Arrington’s suspended security clearance is becoming an issue in her primary campaign against incumbent South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace. Arrington says Mace is mischaracterizing a dispute that resulted in her departure from a job at the Pentagon. Arrington says her security clearance was suspended in 2021 when officials accused her of an improper disclosure of classified information. Arrington says she did nothing wrong, a contention backed up in an affidavit from the officer who gave her intelligence briefings. The dispute is likely to surface at a debate between the two on Monday. The primary is June 14.

Pope voices hope church in China can operate in freedom

Pope Francis has expressed his spiritual closeness to Catholics in China and voiced hope that the church there operates in “freedom and tranquility.’’ But in his remarks on Sunday to the public in St. Peter's Square he made no mention of a 90-year-old cardinal who was arrested in Hong Kong earlier this month. Francis added that he carefully is following “the life and the matters of the faithful and pastors,” which he described as being often “complex.'' He said he prays daily for the Catholics in China. Cardinal Joseph Zen, a critic of the Vatican's latest deal with China, was arrested on May 11 and released later that day.

Texas race tests abortion's resonance with Democratic voters

One of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress is in the toughest reelection battle of his career in South Texas. Rep. Henry Cuellar is trying to win the nomination for a 10th term in a primary runoff Tuesday against challenger Jessica Cisneros. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are standing by Cuellar despite his staunch anti-abortion views. Cisneros is an immigration attorney who supports abortion rights. The runoff is a test of how much abortion rights will energize voters in the midterm elections. A leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion last month showed that the court may overturn abortion rights this summer.

Biden pushes economic, security aims as he ends SKorea visit

President Joe Biden tended to both business and security interests as he wrapped up a three-day visit to South Korea on Sunday. Biden showcased Hyundai's pledge to invest at least $10 billion in electric vehicles and related technologies in the United States. He also visited Osan Air Base, where thousands of U.S. and South Korean service members monitor the rapidly evolving North Korean nuclear threat. Biden says the U.S. is ready for any provocation that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might deliver while Biden is touring the region. Japan is the next stop on Biden's trip to Asia.

Bangkok votes for governor in 1st election since 2014 coup

Voters in the Thai capital are electing a new governor in a contest delayed by a military coup that still reflects a divided country with main candidates either supported by the conservative establishment or the liberal opposition. A record 31 candidates entered the race but the battle being watched most closely is between two who registered as independents. One is a former transport minister and front-runner associated with the main opposition party, and the other had served as the military-appointed governor since 2016. Bangkok’s last gubernatorial election was in 2013, a year before the military toppled a democratically elected government. Analysts say the result will reflect on the future of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has been in power for eight years.

Biden says monkeypox cases something to 'be concerned about'

President Joe Biden says cases of monkeypox are “something that everybody should be concerned about.” The president made his first public comments on the disease after being asked about it during his visit to South Korea. He said there's work underway to identify an effective vaccine. And he added that if the disease were to spread "it would be consequential.” The disease is rarely identified outside of Africa, but there have been a number of recent cases in Europe and at least two in the United States. Most people recover from monkeypox without hospitalization, but it can be fatal.

Vatican airs dirty laundry in trial over London property

The Vatican’s sprawling financial trial may not have produced any convictions yet or any new smoking guns. But recent testimony has provided plenty of insights into how the Vatican operates. The takeaways from recent hearings are of a church bureaucracy that used espionage, allowed outsiders with unverified qualifications to gain access to the Apostolic Palace and relied on a pervasive mantra of sparing the pope responsibility until someone’s neck was on the line. The trial so far has produced an unusual airing of the Vatican's dirty laundry. Pope Francis sought to have a trial to show his willingness to crack down on alleged financial impropriety.

Herschel Walker's ties to veterans program face scrutiny

Herschel Walker boasts of his charity work helping members of the military who struggle with mental health. The football legend and leading Republican Senate candidate in Georgia says the outreach is done through a program he created, called Patriot Support. But court filings and company documents offer a more complicated picture. They show Walker did not found the program. It's also not a charity. It's an arm of a for-profit hospital chain. Court documents reveal the company has a checkered history treating veterans and reached a $122 million settlement after the Justice Department sued for improperly treating patients. The company denies the allegations. Walker's campaign criticized the media for writing a story about the program.

Wisconsin Republicans vote not to endorse for governor

Wisconsin Republicans have voted not to endorse anyone for governor ahead of the GOP primary in August, after many activists rose up against the move. The Republican endorsement has been highly sought after because it unlocks funding from the state party. Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch got the most votes at 55%, just short of the 60% needed for an endorsement. Now the Republican candidates for governor will fight it out without any official backing from the party. The winner of the Aug. 9 primary will advance to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Kemp and Walker look to victory in Georgia as primaries near

Two Republican frontrunners are hoping to clinch primary victories in Georgia. Candidates in the state are making their final pitches to Georgia voters ahead of Tuesday’s election. Gov. Brian Kemp and former football star Herschel Walker hope to win GOP majorities and clinch nominations for governor and U.S. senator on Tuesday without runoffs. Kemp spoke to voters at a rally with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts showing up to support him. Walker was scheduled to rally later Saturday in Columbus. For Kemp, an outright win would be vindication after months of attacks from former President Donald Trump.