The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNN: Senate negotiators say deal close, but more talks needed
A deal is close on a Senate financial reform bill, the leading negotiators said Sunday, but Republicans warned they are not yet prepared to launch debate on the measure. Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama told NBC's "Meet the Press" that they would continue working Sunday to reach a deal on one of President Obama's top legislative priorities.
CNN: GOP lawmakers seek to halt immigration reform push
Two key Republican lawmakers joined a growing GOP effort Sunday to halt the push for immigration reform, arguing the time is not right to take on the massive and complex issue. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said last week he will make passing a comprehensive immigration bill a priority once the Senate completes its work on a Wall Street reform bill. He cited a controversial new law in Arizona, requiring police to determine whether a person is in the United States legally, as indicating the need for reform on a national level.
Arizona Republic: Immigration law protested by more than 2,500 at state Capitol
To the sound of a conch shell and Native American drumbeats, protesters marched to the state Capitol on Sunday to join about 2,500 others in opposition to Arizona's new immigration law. The 2.5-mile march through downtown Phoenix was led by the civil-rights advocacy group Nahuacalli Embassy of Indigenous Peoples but included a crowd of about 300 people from varied backgrounds. Sunday marked the third day of peaceful protest against Senate Bill 1070, which Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law on Friday. Sunday's protest drew groups from California, Colorado and Texas.
CNN: Graham's exit puts climate change bill in limbo
A climate-change bill that was scheduled to be unveiled at a news conference Monday is now up in the air after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina walked out of talks. Graham had worked with Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, independent from Connecticut, to unveil details of their "tri-partisan" climate-change legislation. But Graham declared Saturday that he was walking out of talks because of Democratic efforts to bring up an immigration reform package.
CNN: In new video, Obama calls on Democrats to focus on midterm elections
President Barack Obama is urging political supporters to begin preparing for the 2010 midterm elections in a new video message in which he warns that failure to keep Congress in Democratic hands will be a major blow to his agenda. In the two-minute and 42-second video released Monday, Obama emphasizes that the key to victory for Democrats in November will be convincing the people who helped fuel his 2008 White House bid – first-time voters – to head to the polls for the second time in two years even though he is not on the ballot.
Washington Post: Republicans and Democrats alike voice optimism about midterm elections
With six months remaining before the November midterm elections, partisans in both parties are finding evidence - some of it contradictory - that things are looking up. Gains are a near-certainty for Republicans in both the House and the Senate. But defining the extent of those pickups, as well as the criteria by which each side might be able to declare victory in November, remains a pitched partisan battle at the moment.
Politico: 2012 prelude: GOP hopefuls go online
President Barack Obama’s prospective 2012 Republican rivals are investing heavily in the Internet, looking to cut into what was an overwhelming advantage for Obama in the 2008 campaign. The online competition has taken a variety of forms. Palin has hired the two young founders of a fan site that zealously defends her honor and upbraids her critics. Pawlenty has hired online consultants from the 2008 presidential campaigns of Romney and Rep. Ron Paul. Gingrich has developed a sophisticated in-house micro-targeting operation. And Huckabee has deployed volunteers to man social networks.
Philadelphia Inquirer: It's East vs. West in battle for Pennsylvania voters
In eight years since Pennsylvanians last chose a new governor, the landscape of each major political party has shifted in ways that could have some impact on the May 18 primary. The Democratic Party that picked Ed Rendell as its candidate in 2002 has grown by 550,000 members, to more than 4.3 million, and its center of gravity has tilted slightly toward the Philadelphia region. The Republican Party has changed in some opposite ways. With a loss of many moderates, and a failure to attract many new voters, it has become older, more conservative.
Las Vegas Sun: Harry Reid continues attacks on Sue Lowden
Another day, another attack from Harry Reid's re-election campaign. Over the last month, campaign researchers have made hay out of Republican Sue Lowden's business resume and her political career, highlighting a bonus her husband received as their casino company laid off workers and a ream of workplace safety violations at their various hotel properties over the years. The attacks make clear that Reid and his advisers see Lowden as the presumptive Republican nominee and are working to soften her up as she navigates a crowded primary.
Washington Post: Voter anger fuels New Hampshire congressional candidates
Bounced out of Congress in the 2006 Democratic sweep, former congressman Charlie Bass is trying to win back his narrowly divided district in November. He's still a bellwether candidate. But Charlie Bass has changed. The old version, the one who didn't believe he would lose until the day it happened, was a traditional New England Republican, moderate in substance and style. The new Charlie Bass is full of fight.
Chicago Tribune: Scott Lee Cohen planning run for governor
Scott Lee Cohen, the pawnbroker who flamed out of Illinois politics just days after voters nominated him as the Democratic lieutenant governor candidate, is making plans to run for governor. Cohen last weekend told House Speaker Michael Madigan, who doubles as state Democratic Party chairman, that he intends to mount an independent run for governor, Madigan's spokesman said. In addition, a Cohen adviser confirmed Friday that Cohen plans to announce his candidacy this week and is trying to find a suitable running mate.
Los Angeles Times: With little money to spend, Chuck DeVore puts his faith in his message
Republican Senate candidate Chuck DeVore is a darling of the "tea party" movement. He has been endorsed by influential conservatives, was fawned over by superstar commentator Glenn Beck on Fox News and has a deeply energized base of supporters. These credentials, coupled with DeVore's single-minded focus on limited government and the Constitution, should make him a picture-perfect match to the political winds that are tilting Republican primaries across the nation. But in California, none of this is paying dividends in the two areas that matter most: the polls and DeVore's campaign account.
CQ Politics: Crist Independent Bid Could Hurt for Money
With an Independent bid for Senate by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist appearing to be only a matter of time, political observers and operatives have begun to game out the mechanics of a third-party bid by the one-time darling of national Republicans. As with everything in politics, the most important consideration at the outset for an Independent Crist will be money. As of March 31, Crist was sitting on a healthy $7.6 million in his federal campaign account, but he’s going to need every penny — and more — in a race where a statewide media buy likely will cost well more than $1 million per week this fall.
The Boston Herald: Scott Brown: No presidential run in 2012
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is ruling out a presidential run in 2012 and spurning Tea Partiers by throwing his support – for now, anyway – behind former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney over conservative darling Sarah Palin. Brown said former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified for the presidency, but said he’s sticking with Romney – while keeping his options open.
USA Today: At term's end, New Orleans' Nagin 'physically and mentally exhausted'
More than any other person, Mayor Ray Nagin has been the public face of Hurricane Katrina's destruction and the multibillion-dollar rebuilding effort that followed. Nagin, who will hand the job over to Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu on May 3, said the responsibility took its toll. Today, about 80% of New Orleans' residents have returned, and there are more than $1 billion in recovery projects underway across the city.
The Hill: Black Caucus meeting to plot its strategy for Supreme Court nod
The Congressional Black Caucus plans to meet this week to plot its strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court nomination. Caucus chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) has urged President Barack Obama to consider a minority or woman candidate to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. The caucus appears to be adopting a lower profile in the selection process after a number of members floated the name of one of their own, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), last year for the seat that ultimately went to Sonia Sotomayor.
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Wall Street Journal: Police Let Terrorist Slip Through
Port Authority police were told to stop and search would-be subway bomber Najibullah Zazi's car last September as he drove up to the George Washington Bridge—but waved him across without finding two pounds of explosives hidden inside. The failure to uncover the explosives after an alert about Mr. Zazi from the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been widely discussed among police but never publicly disclosed. It stoked longstanding tensions between the Port Authority Police and the New York Police Department, which are more pronounced since the 9/11 attacks.
CNN: Obama pays tribute to fallen West Virginia miners
President Obama paid tribute Sunday to 29 workers killed in an explosion at a West Virginia coal mine earlier this month, saying they died "in pursuit of the American dream." Obama and Vice President Biden, who were among a group of dignitaries who spoke at the service, met with the workers' families privately before the ceremony. In his eulogy, delivered from behind a row of 29 white crosses, Obama sought to comfort those loved ones.
Asheville Citizen Times: Armed man arrested outside Asheville airport as Obama leaves
Airport police arrested a 23-year-old Ohio man Sunday who was carrying a handgun and listening to police radio frequencies near the runway around the time President Barack Obama's flight was leaving Asheville Regional Airport, according to investigators. Police charged him with going armed to the terror of the public, a misdemeanor offense, but investigators haven't yet determined whether he was attempting to target the president. McVey was being held at the Magistrate's Office on Sunday on a secured bond set at $100,000. Airport Director Lew Bleiweis said the suspect didn't get close to the president, who departed at 2 p.m.
CNN: Rescuers comb debris for survivors after Mississippi tornado
Rescue crews in Mississippi continued to search for survivors Sunday from a powerful tornado that ripped through the state a day earlier, killing 10 people, injuring dozens of others and leveling scores of homes. The tornado tore a path nearly a mile wide and decimated neighborhoods as it raked cities from the central western border with Louisiana northeastward to Alabama.
New York Times: Days After Rig Explosion, Well Pours Thousands of Gallons of Oil Into Gulf
Officials worked Sunday to try to stop oil leaks coming from the deepwater well drilled by a rig that sank last week near Louisiana, but they acknowledged that it could be months before they are able to stem the flow of what is now about 42,000 gallons of oil a day pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. The response team is trying three tacks: one that could stop the leaks within two days, one that would take months and one that would not stop the leaks but would capture the oil and deliver it to the surface while permanent measures are pursued.
Charlotte Observer: Obama visits mountaintop to meet with Billy Graham
Barack Obama on Sunday became the 12th president to meet with Billy Graham, and the first sitting one to visit Graham's mountaintop home in Montreat. In a meeting that lasted about 35 minutes, the president and the 91-year-old preacher prayed for each other. They talked about golf, their wives, Chicago – a city that helped launch both of their careers – and the presidency.
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CNN: Iran reportedly tests five new missiles
Iran said Sunday it fired five new types of locally-made coast-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles in the last stage of its "Great Prophet 5" military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf. The military exercises on Sunday also included high-speed boats waging a "war" against a warship. The maneuvers fell on the 31st anniversary of the elite force and were designed to demonstrate new weapons systems.
CNN: State media: Dozens killed in southern Darfur clashes
Fighting in southern Darfur killed dozens of people over the weekend as soldiers from Sudan's People's Liberation Army clashed with armed members of an Arab tribe, state media reported Sunday. The fighting was part of an outbreak of violence over the weekend that killed as many as 54 people on Saturday, according to Ashorooq. Dozens more were wounded. Sudanese government officials accused SPLA of instigating the violence, according to Ashorooq.
Bloomberg: Greece Nears Getting Aid, Warns Against Default Bets
Greece moved toward securing an emergency aid package before debt payments come due in mid-May as Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou warned investors they will “lose their shirts” if they bet the cash-strapped nation will default. Left unsaid at the weekend was what assistance Greece may receive beyond this year and what further austerity measures it will have to sign up to in return for aid. Germany’s government, which would be the biggest euro-area donor to the package, must also overcome domestic skepticism and pass legislation before it can provide cash.
Jerusalem Post: Was iPad ban in aid of local distributor?
Following the lifting of a personal import ban on the iPad on Saturday, many Israelis are left scratching their heads, wondering why the ban had been instituted in the first place. A week- and-a-half ago, the Communications Ministry announced that it was banning the import of iPads to Israel because the device’s wi-fi transmitter was set to American standards and could interfere with local wi-fi signals, including those of the IDF. According to a press release issued by the Communications Ministry on Sunday, the decision to lift the ban came following “intensive technical scrutiny,” following which Communications Minister Moshe Kachlon (Likud) decided to approve the device’s entry to Israel.
CNN: Cubans take to the polls amid criticism and protest
Cubans hit the polls across the country Sunday, voting in municipal assembly elections that the government hopes will soften criticism about democracy - or lack thereof - in the communist nation. Electoral campaigning is strictly prohibited, an aspect that Cuba touts as at least one reason it considers its elections to be more democratic than in neighboring countries.
Bloomberg: Thai Protesters Brace for Crackdown After Abhisit Rejects Offer
Thai protesters readied themselves for a military offensive on the Bangkok business district they have shut down for 23 days after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called off peace talks and pledged to disperse them.
The Guardian: Nick Clegg goes public on coalition – and looks to the Conservatives
Nick Clegg today signalled that he would speak to the Conservatives first about the formation of a minority government if Labour came third by share of the vote on 6 May, rejecting the constitutional convention that the prime minister should be allowed to try to form a government first. The Liberal Democrat leader also made it explicit for the first time that electoral reform would be an unavoidable precondition of any coalition government as he insisted that Labour will have forfeited the right to govern if it comes third.
CNN: UK sorry for pope-brand condom proposal memo
The British government has apologized to Pope Benedict XVI for a Foreign Office memo suggesting that he could launch Benedict-brand condoms or bless a gay marriage when he visits the United Kingdom later this year. Many of the ideas in the document are "clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful," the Foreign Office said in a statement Sunday.
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CNNMoney: Senate nears Wall Street bill showdown
Several sticking points need to be hammered out if Senate leaders are to succeed in bringing a compromise Wall Street reform bill to the floor this week. Both Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and ranking member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Sunday that talks toward a bipartisan deal are continuing. Should the debate begin, there's broad bipartisan agreement to prevent bailouts, increase capital cushions at banks, protect consumers and shine a light on complex financial contracts now traded in the shadows.
CNNMoney: Goldman knew it profited in crisis
Internal Goldman Sachs e-mails released on Capitol Hill Saturday show how the firm used bets on mortgage securities in a bid to profit as the housing market began to plummet several years ago. A lawmaker set to grill company executives on Tuesday says the documents show that Goldman executives knew their bets would profit the firm.
CNNMoney: Gasoline prices hold steady
U.S. retail gasoline prices remained nearly unchanged over the past two weeks as crude oil dipped and recovered during the same period, according to a new nationwide survey released Sunday. Summer vacation season is on the horizon for Americans. But with U.S. fuel stocks remaining high and about 15% of refinery capacity available that is not currently being used, Lundberg said increased demand is likely to put little upward pressure on prices at the pump without increases in the cost of crude.
Wall Street Journal: Fannie Offers Spur To Avoid Foreclosure
Fannie Mae will make it easier for some struggling homeowners to buy houses in the future if they avoid foreclosure in the present. Under rules released this month that will take effect in July, some troubled borrowers who give up their homes by voluntarily transferring ownership through a "deed in lieu of foreclosure" or by completing a short sale, where a home is sold for less than the amount owed, will be eligible in two years to apply for a new mortgage backed by Fannie. Currently, borrowers who complete a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure must wait four years before they can take out a loan that Fannie is willing to purchase.
Bloomberg Business Week: Companies in U.S. Plan to Increase Employment, Survey Shows
More U.S. companies plan to boost payrolls as sales strengthen and the outlook for economic growth brightens, a quarterly survey of economists showed. The percentage of businesses planning on increasing staff in the next six months exceeded the share projecting more firings by 21 points, up from 6 points in January, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics. Demand rose for the third consecutive quarter, and more respondents estimated the economy will grow faster than 3 percent this year.
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