Australia to exit early from Afghanistan
CANBERRA, Australia, April 17 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Tuesday she has outlined a plan to bring Australian troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Gillard's proposal pulls troops out of Afghanistan a year earlier than the previous deadline, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
"This is a war with a purpose. This is a war with an end. We have a strategy, a mission and a time frame for achieving it," Gillard said.
The prime minister added a small group of Australian forces may stay in Afghanistan to train Afghan troops.
"Australia will also be prepared to provide niche training to the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014. In future we will support the proposed [United Kingdom]-led Afghan National Army Officer Academy," she said. "We will maintain a role providing training and support to policing in Afghanistan and, finally, as I have stated previously, we are prepared to consider a limited Special Forces contribution in the right circumstances and under the right mandate."
Opposition party members said the sooner troops are home, the better.
"The war in Afghanistan has been a failure on just about every level and from the Greens' point of view it is time we brought the troops home safely and we would like to see that withdrawal from Afghanistan start straight away, providing it can be done in a safe and well managed way," said Greens party leader Christine Milne.
Romney's favorability rating up in poll
WASHINGTON, April 17 (UPI) -- U.S. voters are starting to warm up to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a poll released Tuesday indicates.
The CNN/ORC International survey found 44 percent of those questioned have a favorable view of Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. That's up 10 points from February. On the flip side of that coin, 43 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of him, down 11 points from February.
Thirteen percent said they were unsure.
Despite the improved numbers, Romney still has a way to go to catch incumbent Democrat Barack Obama. The poll found the president has a 56 percent favorable rating, along with a 42 percent negative rating.
The telephone poll of 1,015 adults -- 910 of them registered voters -- was conducted Friday through Sunday. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.
Secret Service 'aware of' Nugent remarks
WASHINGTON, April 17 (UPI) -- The Secret Service said it will "follow up" on remarks by rocker Ted Nugent that he will be "dead or in jail" if U.S. President Barack Obama is re-elected.
The conservative rock guitarist and spokesman for the National Rifle Association -- in a video posted by the NRA on YouTube -- said, "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."
"We are aware of it, and we'll conduct an appropriate follow up," the Secret Service said in a statement, New York magazine reported Tuesday.
Nugent, who has endorsed Mitt Romney for president, said administration officials including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder are "criminals." He said the government has been "wiping its ass with the Constitution" and called on voters to "ride into that battlefield and chop (Democrats') heads off in November," CNN reported.
"If you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil America hated administration, I don't even know what you're made out of."
The Romney campaign issued a statement saying "divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from," The Christian Science Monitor reported.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president has said "we can't be policing the statements of supporters across the board."
"The president is focused on the issues. The president is focused on doing everything he can specifically with regards to helping the economy grow and helping the economy create jobs," Carney said.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman, a Florida congresswoman, called on the Romney campaign to denounce Nugent's remarks, which she called "despicable, deplorable and completely beyond the pale."
Warren Buffett says he has prostate cancer
NEW YORK, April 17 (UPI) -- U.S. investor Warren Buffett, one of the world's wealthiest people, said Tuesday he has been diagnosed with stage I prostate cancer.
The 81-year-old chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway said in a letter his doctors have told him his condition "is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way," NBC News reported.
"I will let shareholders know immediately should my health situation change," Buffett said, adding a dead-pan acknowledgment of his mortality. "Eventually, of course, it will; but I believe that day is a long way off."
The investment guru said he will start a two-month treatment of daily radiation in mid-July.
Buffett said in February he has chosen his successor at Berkshire Hathaway, but has not divulged who it is.