May 5th, 2009
04:58 AM ET
5 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: May 5, 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: Specter starts anew with longtime constituents
He has represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate for nearly three decades, but Arlen Specter now has to re-introduce himself back home.

CNN: Is trade embargo with Cuba hurting U.S. interests?
If Americans wonder what it's like to travel to Cuba, just ask a Canadian.

CNN: Edwards and wife deny financial wrongdoing
While acknowledging federal authorities are investigating the finances related to John Edwards political efforts, he and his wife say they don't believe there was any financial wrongdoing.

CNN: Dems nix money to close Gitmo, say plan needed first
House Democrats told the president Monday he won't be getting money to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until he has a "concrete program" for shutting it down and moving its prisoners.

Washington Post: Murtha's Nephew Got Defense Contracts
The headquarters of Murtech, in a low-slung, bland building in a Glen Burnie business park, has its blinds drawn tight and few signs of life. On several days of visits, a handful of cars sit in the parking lot, and no trucks arrive at the 10 loading bays at the back of the building. Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services.

NYT: Advances by the Taliban Sharpen U.S. Concerns
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said Monday that he was “gravely concerned” about Taliban advances in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as President Obama prepared for meetings here this week with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan in an atmosphere of crisis.

LA Times: What the Pakistani people would tell Obama
Many Pakistanis welcomed the election of President Obama as an opportunity for some fresh thinking about their troubled region.

Washington Post: Ridge May Run for Specter's Senate Seat
Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge (R) is seriously considering a 2010 bid for the Senate seat held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter and will make his decision in the next two weeks, according to several sources familiar with his thinking.

NYT: Porous Border With Pakistan Could Hinder U.S. Troops
President Obama is pouring more than 20,000 new troops into Afghanistan this year for a fighting season that the United States military has called a make-or-break test of the allied campaign in Afghanistan.

Newsweek: The Dilemma of Dissent
In early July 2002 I went to see Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush's National Security Advisor, in her West Wing office. I was meeting Condi in my capacity as director of policy planning, the State Department's internal think tank. But we were longtime friends, dating back to our work together for the first President Bush more than a decade before, and our get-togethers were not part of any formal interagency process.

LA Times: Supreme Court limits identity theft law
The Supreme Court on Monday took away one of the government's tools for prosecuting and deporting workers in this country illegally, ruling that the crime of identity theft was limited to those who knew they were using another person's Social Security number.

Al Jazeera: US army 'does not promote religion'
The US's highest ranking military officer has said it is not the US military's position to promote any specific religion, after Al Jazeera revealed footage of troops apparently preparing to convert Afghans to their Christian faith.

Washington Post: Democrats Seek More Interrogation Documents
Fallout from the Bush administration's detainee interrogation practices persisted yesterday, with House Democrats requesting documents that reportedly challenged the decision to use methods critics have likened to torture.

McClatchy: Nevada files voter fraud charges against ACORN
Nevada's attorney general on Monday filed criminal charges accusing liberal community activist group ACORN and two of its employees of facilitating voter registration fraud in November's election by requiring canvassers to submit 20 applications each day or face termination.

Washington Times: For political comedians, the joke's not on Obama
What's so unfunny? That's what some comics – citing the scarcity of satire directed at President Obama and his administration – want to know.

NATIONAL
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com.

CNN: Toddler brain difference linked to autism
The size of a specific part of the brain may help experts pinpoint when autism could first develop, University of North Carolina researchers report.

CNN poll: Generations disagree on same-sex marriage
A new national poll suggests a majority of Americans oppose legalizing same-sex marriages, but the survey indicates a vast generational divide on the issue.

CNN: Supreme Court wants new look at 'wardrobe malfunction'
The case of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" on national television - and subsequent fines against CBS - will be re-examined at the order of the Supreme Court.

CNN: Casey Anthony's attorney wants trial moved to Miami
Accusing local media in the Orlando, Florida, area of a "barrage" of coverage, Casey Anthony's lead defense attorney asked Monday to have her death-penalty case moved from Orlando to Miami, Florida.

Providence Journal: R.I. to charge suspect in craigslist killing
It was him, law enforcement officials now officially say. But they’re not offering any evidence. Two days after Philip Markoff allegedly killed a masseuse in a Boston hotel last month, law enforcement officials say, the Boston University medical student walked into the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick with a gun and attempted to rob a Las Vegas exotic dancer whom he had similarly arranged to meet on the Web site craigslist.

WSJ: Giving Internships a Post-College Try
Nora Cook has her dream job. As a member of the "recycling police" for the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority in Walnut Creek, Calif., Ms. Cook, who graduated with a business economics degree from California State University East Bay in June, finds businesses that don't recycle, educates them on the process and keeps track of their progress.

NYT: Lost Manuscript Unmasks Details Of Original Ponzi
In the summer of 1920, William H. McMasters, one of Boston’s top publicists, was in a pickle. A new client, a dapper and charming Italian immigrant named Charles Ponzi, was raking in millions on promises to pay investors 50 percent interest in 45 days.

LA Times: Gasoline prices continue slow climb
Pump prices in California and around much of the nation continued their ever-so-slow crawl higher over the past week, the Energy Department said Monday. But analysts said gasoline costs might be kicked into a higher gear by a resurgent oil market.

USA Today: Airlines see signs of improvement in April
U.S. airlines, which saw much of their high-fare business traffic evaporate this winter, may finally be coming out of their tailspin.

Chicago Tribune: McDonald's, Starbucks take coffee war to national ad battlefield
On Tuesday, McDonald's begins a massive advertising blitz to persuade customers to associate its famous "Mc" prefix with fancy coffee. Meanwhile, coffee king Starbucks has launched its own ad assault.

Newsweek: The Next Pandemic
How does it feel to be a pandemic? Fairly addictive, in fact. In the Flash-based Web game Pandemic 2, players take on the identity of a deadly disease trying to wipe out the earth's population. Using preset options, players create an illness designed for a maximum body count: will the disease be a virus, bacteria or a fungal pathogen? Will it be resistant to moisture? Cause coughing or sneezing? Be carried by rats or insects? If players make the symptoms too apparent, doctors will treat their disease before it spreads; too contagious and the airports close down before it can jump to other countries.

Denver Post: Death-penalty foes reeling
A last-minute legislative rewrite could kill a plan to repeal Colorado's death penalty by providing an alternative funding source to investigate the state's 1,434 cold-case homicides.

Anchorage Daily News: Alaska looks for bargain in prisoner contract
Alaska's $20-million-per-year contract with an Arizona prison is nearly up, and the Department of Corrections is seeking a better deal.

Providence Journal: Coalition of R.I. groups sets survey on racial profiling
Have you ever been confronted or called to account by a police officer because of your race or ethnicity? If so, a coalition of 11 sociopolitical advocacy groups concerned about racial profiling wants to hear from you.

USA Today: Student's letter to Congress leads to school makeover
Students who had grown resigned to old, "nasty" furnishings at their dilapidated middle school in rural South Carolina were elated Monday to find new furniture and a freshly painted cafeteria, thanks to a student's plea, a president's speech and a businessman's response.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com/

CNN: Dozens killed in Turkish wedding massacre
Forty-four people were killed during an attack on a wedding party in Turkey's southeastern Mardin province Monday.

CNN: Al Qaeda exporting jihad with a hip-hop vibe
The latest video from Somalia's al Qaeda-backed Al-Shabaab wing is as slickly produced as a reality TV show but with a startling message - complete with a hip-hop jihad vibe.

CNN: WWI mass graves to be exhumed in France
Wide green expanses of farmland outside a picturesque northern French village hide memories of a World War I battle in which thousands of British and Australian troops were killed or wounded on a single night.

CNN: British woman could face Laos death penalty
A pregnant British woman facing possible execution in Laos will go on trial this week, the country's foreign affairs ministry said Monday.

Washington Post: KBR Connected to Alleged Fraud, Pentagon Auditor Says
KBR, the Army's largest contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, is linked to "the vast majority" of suspected combat-zone fraud cases that have been referred to investigators, as well as a majority of the $13 billion in "questioned" or "unsupported" costs, the Pentagon's top auditor said yesterday.

LA Times: Berlusconi divorce spat merges with politics
For better and for worse, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has revolutionized Italy during the last 15 years, toppling walls between government and business, media and ideology, traditional parties and maverick movements.

Times of London: Licence to let will hit all private landlords
All private landlords would have to be registered before letting residential property under government plans to curb abuses in the growing rental market, The Times has learnt.

Al Jazeera: Pakistan-Taliban pact under strain
Pakistan's peace pact with the Taliban is close to collapse, a Taliban spokesman has warned, accusing the government and the army of being stooges for the US.

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

CNN: New Chrysler auto incentives coming
With bankruptcy threatening to further weigh down the carmaker's sales, Chrysler is expected to announce a new incentive program Tuesday.

CNN: Obama plans corporate tax crackdown
President Obama on Monday spelled out his proposals to close corporate tax loopholes on U.S. multinational corporations and crack down on overseas tax havens.

CNN: Bankers see more losses ahead
Bankers are bracing for additional losses this year across a wide variety of loan categories, according to a report published Monday by the Federal Reserve, as the nation continues to suffer under the weight of a painful recession.

Bloomberg: UBS Posts SF1.98 Billion Quarterly Loss on Writedowns
UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank by assets, reported a first-quarter loss after writing down the value of hard-to-trade holdings.

WSJ: More Banks Will Need Capital
The U.S. is expected to direct about 10 of the 19 banks undergoing government stress tests to boost their capital, according to several people familiar with the matter, a move that officials hope will quell fears about the solvency of the financial sector.

Forbes: Street Locks Up Big Rally
U.S. stocks gained more than two percent on Monday finishing the trading session with a sharp rise in the indexes. The possible culprit for all that buying: home sales increased for the second month in a row and a bank under suspicion of having to raise capital denied it. The biggest financial news of the week is still to come, though, with the results of the government's bank stress tests and the monthly jobs report due Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Bloomberg: ‘Great Recession’ Will Redefine Full Employment as Jobs Vanish
Post-recession America may be saddled with high unemployment even after good times finally return.

WSJ: 401(k)s Hit by Withdrawal Freezes
Some investors in 401(k) retirement funds who are moving to grab their money are finding they can't.

In Case You Missed It
To watch the latest interviews and reporting: http://www.cnn.com/video.

CNN: 'Party on,' Obama says
President Obama's makes remarks at the White House on the eve of Cinco de Mayo.

CNN: Obama date night
It's date night for the first couple as they hit the streets of DC for a romantic evening. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.

CNN: Fired over MySpace postings?
CNN's Alina Cho reports on how some employers are using the Internet to spy on workers.


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