By Susan Cornwell and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government's decision to delay for some people the requirement to buy medical insurance under President Barack Obama's health law raised more doubts about the policy just days before an enrollment deadline. Republican Party critics of the law known as Obamacare were emboldened by Thursday night's sudden rule change, which could further dampen enthusiasm for the president's signature domestic policy. The administration said people who have had their insurance plans canceled because of new standards under the healthcare law may be able to claim a "hardship exemption" to the requirement that Americans have coverage by March 31, or face a penalty. While several million people have received policy cancellations, U.S. officials estimate that fewer than 500,000 would be affected by this delay in the so-called individual mandate.
British and U.S. spies targeted a senior European Union official, German government buildings, and the office of an Israeli prime minister, according to the latest leaked documents from Edward Snowden published on Friday. Snowden has shone a light on widespread surveillance by the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ, the alleged extent of which has upset many U.S. allies and fuelled a heated debate about the balance between privacy and security. He is living in Russia under temporary asylum The newspapers reported that in January 2009 GCHQ and the NSA had targeted an email address listed as belonging to the Israeli prime minister, who at the time was Ehud Olmert.
By David Alexander and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on Friday he knew about a Navy contracting investigation for months before it erupted into a major bribery scandal and that Navy investigators planted false information that helped lead to the first arrests in the case. In his first public comments on the scandal involving maritime services firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia and its colorful chief executive Leonard Glenn Francis, Mabus said there would be "more disclosures" in the case, which has so far led to action against six senior Navy officers and an investigator. Francis, a 49-year-old Malaysia native, is accused of giving prostitutes, cash, luxury travel and concert tickets to Navy officials in exchange for information to help him win millions of dollars in business at ports across Asia. He said he had told Navy investigators to pursue the probe "wherever it leads" and that an independent federal investigation had "pulled no punches." If federal prosecutors decide not to charge some individuals involved, Mabus said the Navy would appoint a four-star admiral and a team of professionals to examine the allegations and hold people "appropriately accountable." The scandal broke in mid-September after Francis, known as "Fat Leonard" in military circles, was lured from his Singapore base to San Diego for what he believed would be a meeting with Navy officials but was instead arrested by federal authorities.