April 16th, 2009
05:38 AM ET
6 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Thursday, April 16, 2009

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The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL

For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.

CNN: Obama: Latin America on equal footing with U.S.
President Barack Obama on Thursday embarks on a trip to Latin America, where the leader of the world's lone superpower said he seeks to engage in talks with the region's leaders as equals.

CNN: Nationwide 'tea party' protests blast spending
Armed with signs reading "no taxation without deliberation" and "stop bankrupting America," tens of thousands of people spent national tax day at organized "tea party" demonstrations across the country, protesting what some view as excessive government spending and bailouts.

CNN: Obama heads to Mexico amid escalating drug violence
President Obama travels to Mexico on Thursday as the United States' neighbor to the south continues to wrestle with increasingly deadly drug wars.

CNN: Napolitano defends report on right-wing extremist groups
The Department of Homeland Security will never monitor ideology or political beliefs, the head of the agency said Wednesday, responding to criticism of a recent report on right-wing extremist groups.

CNN: Clinton hits milestone in trying to clear campaign debt
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached an important milestone Wednesday in her quest to pay the debt from her failed 2008 presidential bid: For the first time in eight months, her campaign committee reported having more money in the bank than it owes.

CNN: Clinton unveils initiative to combat 'scourge of piracy'
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday unveiled a diplomatic initiative to thwart attacks on ships off Somalia's coast and combat what she called the "scourge of piracy."

NYT: N.S.A.’s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress
The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews.

CS Monitor: Military services largely on board with Gates's defense budget
Defense Secretary Robert Gates's controversial new budget is not yet meeting the stiff resistance that even he expected from members of Congress, industry officials, and senior officers inside his own Pentagon. It's a sign that many of the wide-ranging reforms contained in his half-trillion-dollar spending plan could succeed.

LA Times: Schwarzenegger says illegal immigrants aren't to blame for fiscal crisis
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday that the claim by some conservative activists that illegal immigration is to blame for all of the state's fiscal problems is ignorant and bigoted.

Washington Post: Report Says IRS Let Foreigners Take Improper Tax Credit
The Internal Revenue Service has allowed some foreigners to improperly claim tax credits that will cost the government nearly $9 billion, according to a federal report scheduled to be released today.

WSJ: U.S. to Signal Strategy for Rail Funds
The Obama administration on Thursday will outline how it plans to spend $8 billion in stimulus funds on high-speed passenger-rail service, a new federal commitment that has rail advocates and states jockeying for a piece of the pie.

DC Examiner: On Climate & Health, Beware of Easy Formulas
Beware of geeks bearing formulas. That's the lesson most of us have learned from the financial crisis. The "quants" who devised the risk models that induced so many financial institutions to buy mortgage-backed securities thought they had reduced risk down to zero.

WSJ: It's Rare for Prosecutors to Get the Book Thrown Back at Them
The Justice Department recently got a black eye when its corruption case against Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska collapsed amid allegations of misconduct by federal prosecutors.

WSJ Op-Ed: Rove: Republicans and the Tea Parties
Yesterday was Tax Day, and it was marked by large numbers of Americans turning out for an estimated 2,000 tea parties across the country. This movement is significant.

NATIONAL
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com.
CNN: Maersk crew returns to U.S. to warm welcome
The crew of the Maersk Alabama, the U.S.-flagged cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates last week, arrived in the United States early Thursday.

CNN: New fingerprinting technique could crack cold cases
It was early one Sunday morning when the killer rang at a front door that was decorated with a wreath for Christmas. When his victim answered, he fired four fatal shots, ran off and disappeared.

CNN: Memorial service set for slain 8-year-old girl
Eight-year-old Sandra Cantu will be remembered at a memorial service Thursday in the central California community where she lived and was later found dead.

CNN: Five places to escape seasonal allergies
It's about the time of year when many of those with seasonal allergies are starting to grumble.

USA Today: Thrift stores' business booms across U.S.
Rummaging around for some good news in this recession? Try your local thrift store.

Washington Post: Renewable Energy's Environmental Paradox
The SunZia transmission line that would link sun and wind power from central New Mexico with cities in Arizona is just the sort of energy project an environmentalist could love - or hate. And it is just the sort of line the Interior Department has been tasked with promoting - or guarding against.

NYT: Getaways That Are ‘Guilt Free’
Sure, you’d like to take a vacation. But with layoffs hitting your best friends and your own company hinting at pay cuts, how can you justify it? Consider the guilt-free vacation.

LA Times: United Airlines could require obese passengers to buy a second ticket
As the nation copes with increasing numbers of obese Americans, United Airlines has joined the list of air carriers making overweight passengers pay more to fly.

The Economist: Have you been taking your medicine?
Taking your medicine even for a week is a drag. Taking it every day for six months is a real nuisance. Yet that is what is asked of those being treated for tuberculosis. They need to pop their pills for half a year if they are to eliminate the bacteria that cause the infection and combat the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains. Worse, from the point of view of compliance, the actual symptoms of infection tend to go away after just two months of taking the medicine, so the incentive to carry on is negligible. But worse than that, the drugs themselves produce unpleasant symptoms, including nausea, diarrhoea, headaches and insomnia. Indeed, one common anti-TB drug, rifampicin, also has the unnerving side effect of turning people’s tears, sweat and urine a shade of reddish orange.

WSJ: Fear and Greed Have Sales of Guns and Ammo Shooting Up
The way Jay Chambers sees it, the semiautomatic weapons in his firearm collection might be the most promising investment in his financial portfolio.

Bloomberg: U.S. TV Stations Attract More Viewers With News Than ‘Seinfeld’
Instead of paying for reruns of “Seinfeld” at 11 p.m. and “Access Hollywood” at 4:30 a.m., News Corp.’s WJBK-TV in Detroit decided to air more local news.

NYT: Colleges Ask Donors to Help Meet Demand for Aid
Faced with one of the most challenging fund-raising environments anyone can remember, colleges and universities are appealing to donors to help meet the swelling demand for financial aid.

WSJ: Lean Times Bring Workouts Home
Perre DiCarlo and his girlfriend, Frida Stein, used to shell out hundreds of dollars a year for everything from gym memberships to yoga classes at a local studio. About a month ago they stumbled upon a cheaper way to get toned: streaming workout videos from Netflix, a DVD rental site that offers them on demand to subscribers for no extra charge.

LA Times: Alcohol a growing problem in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, report says
There has been a dramatic upswing in the number of Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrested for alcohol-related offenses in recent years, suggesting a growing drinking problem within the department, a county watchdog agency reported Wednesday.

NYT: I.Q. Harmed by Epilepsy Drug in Utero
Pregnant women who took a popular epilepsy drug, also widely used to treat migraines, pain and psychiatric disorders, had children whose I.Q. scores were significantly lower than those whose mothers took a different antiseizure medication, a new study has found.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com/
CNN: Hitmen's bloody reign all about logic, trafficker says
There are no welcome signs on the approach to Camargo.

CNN: Obama administration opens door for Iran
One of the main stumbling blocks to talk with Iran has been the condition that Iran suspends its uranium enrichment. Now, the Obama administration may take that option off the table, at least for now.

CNN: Maoists strike as India votes in epic elections
Indians turned out in steady numbers Thursday to pick a new federal government in a mammoth month-long general election. But suspected Maoist insurgents marred the balloting in several areas with deadly attacks.

CNN: U.N. official: Sri Lanka ceasefire 'inadequate'
The United Nations humanitarian chief Wednesday criticized a two-day pause in the fighting between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels as "inadequate."

Al Jazeera: Indian election gets under way
People in several states of India have begun voting in the first of five stages in an electoral process that will last a month.

BBC: Pet trade puts orangutans at risk
The trade in Sumatran orangutans for pets shows little sign of decline and is taking the species to the brink of extinction, a report concludes.

NYT: Third-World Stove Soot Is Target in Climate Fight
“It’s hard to believe that this is what’s melting the glaciers,” said Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, as he weaved through a warren of mud brick huts, each containing a mud cookstove pouring soot into the atmosphere.

BUSINESS
For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com.

CNN: Citigroup tries to stop the bleeding
The latest crop of quarterly numbers from the banking industry has proven promising so far. But with every harvest, there's always bound to be a few rotten apples in the bunch.

CNN: Obama launches mortgage rescue plan
The Obama administration's loan modification program is finally underway.

WSJ: Lawyers Set to Profit on Lehman
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which set a record as the largest company to file for bankruptcy protection, is on course to yield one of the biggest bonanzas for lawyers.

LA Times: Empty Florida homes may return to nature
The Georgetown apartment complex was one of this city's most coveted properties back in 2005. Now Greg Chelius and Alex Size were touring it as if examining an exotic ruin.

Business Week: Unemployment: Deals for the Discharged
There's nothing like the fear of losing your job to get you to start hoarding cash and putting off purchases, even of necessities. Automakers, airlines, and clothing retailers, among others, are battling back with a slew of guarantees, rebates, and freebies geared specifically to those who might get laid off or already have been.

WSJ: AIG Nearing a Deal to Sell Car-Insurance Unit to Zurich
American International Group Inc. is negotiating to sell a car-insurance unit to a major rival, Zurich Financial Services AG, and a deal could be announced as soon as Thursday.

Financial Times: Yahoo ready to sell Hot Jobs
Three months into her stint at the head of Yahoo, Carol Bartz is hastening her drive to streamline operations by disposing of ancillary businesses.


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