The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: Democrat: Lawmakers going to take Hayward's 'hide off'
Democratic lawmakers will try to build the case of a corporate culture which chose riskier, cheaper methods over safety concerns as they grill BP CEO Tony Hayward on Capitol Hill Thursday. "Members are angry. Members are frustrated," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, told CNN's Dana Bash. "They're going to take his hide off, as they should." Stupak, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, outlined evidence his committee has put together from thousands of pages of internal BP documents. In Thursday's hearing, Stupak intends to focus on what the lawmaker sees as a pattern of behavior on BP's part that risked safety in order to contain costs and make up for the drilling project's being behind schedule.
CNN: RNC alleges Obama ‘dithered’ in Gulf crisis
The Republican National Committee accuses President Obama of failing to focus his full attention on the Gulf oil spill, specifically criticizing him in a new web video of waiting 58 days to meet with BP executives to discuss how to address this environmental disaster. Obama met with BP officials Wednesday morning in the Roosevelt Room, less than 24 hours after he returned from the Gulf and delivered a primetime address from the Oval office outlining his plan to revive the region.
CNN: Poll: Rossi front-runner in Washington GOP Senate race
Dino Rossi holds a large lead over two other Republican candidates in the battle to challenge Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, according to a new survey. An Elway Poll of registered voters in Washington state indicates that 43 percent back Murray, who's bidding for a fourth term in the Senate, in the state's August 17 primary. Thirty-one percent support Rossi, with fellow Republicans Clint Didier at five percent and Paul Akers at two percent.
Charleston Post and Courier: Rawl will cite irregularities
Vic Rawl, the defeated candidate in the Democratic race for the U.S. Senate, will allege irregularities in voting-machine programming when he protests the primary results today in Columbia. It's questionable whether Alvin Greene, the certified winner, will show up to defend his victory even after being invited in a hand-delivered letter from party officials. Efforts to reach Greene were unsuccessful Wednesday, but during a telephone interview Tuesday he said "I'm not going." He immediately hung up.
CNN: Bachmann not yet ready to back Pawlenty in 2012
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, refused Wednesday to say whether she will back Gov. Tim Pawlenty should he launch a 2012 White House bid. “He hasn’t clearly made any decision yet,” Bachmann said of her state’s Republican governor in an interview on CNN’s John King, USA. “And I haven’t backed any candidate yet or said that I’m going to be necessarily on their team. It’s very early in the process.”
Politico: Democrats flirt with backing Charlie Crist
The emergence of a politically unknown billionaire self-funder in the Florida Senate race is prompting top Democrats in the state to say publicly what some have been whispering for weeks: If Jeff Greene, who got rich betting on the collapse of the housing market, becomes their nominee, many in the party will have the cover they need to get behind Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist. Establishment Democrats in Florida, for now, are sticking with Rep. Kendrick Meek, who lags far behind in early general election polls against Crist and Republican Marco Rubio.
CNN: Jenny Sanford to join Haley in final push
Former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford will join gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on the campaign trail Friday for a headline-grabbing final push ahead of next Tuesday's Republican runoff election, a Haley source tells CNN. Sanford won't have to go far to join the Republican frontrunner – Haley is scheduled to appear with Mitt and Ann Romney in Charleston and Beaufort, both a short drive from Sanford's home on Sullivan's Island.
Anchorage Daily News: Tea Party Express backs Miller over Murkowski
The Tea Party Express announced this morning it is backing Joe Miller’s bid to defeat Alaska Sen, Lisa Murkowski in the August Republican primary election. The group is promising to have staff on the ground in Alaska and to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support his candidacy. This is a big deal for Miller’s long-shot candidacy. The Tea Party Express said it will make the race its top priority between now and the Aug. 24 primary.
New York Times: In Illinois Race, a Teaching Career Is Questioned
Representative Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, a Republican candidate for the United States Senate, has often reminisced about his time as a teacher. A review of public comments that Mr. Kirk has made over the last decade shows that while he may refer to himself as a former teacher, he does not talk about the brevity of his experience: a year in London at a private school and part-time in a nursery school as part of a work-study program while he was a student at Cornell University. The biographies of political candidates are receiving extra scrutiny this year, as accusations of embellishments or exaggerations have touched Democrats and Republicans. With an unusually high number of candidates on the ballot, strategists in both parties are beefing up their teams of researchers to pore over résumés line by line.
San Jose Mercury News: Biden coming to Silicon Valley in July to raise money for Boxer
Vice President Joe Biden is coming to Silicon Valley on July 8 to raise money for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election bid, her campaign said Wednesday night. He'll attend a second fundraiser for her the following day in Los Angeles. Facing what she's called the re-election fight of her career against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Boxer is receiving a big fundraising boost from the White House. President Barack Obama already has traveled to the state twice this year to raise money for Boxer, who is seeking a fourth six-year term. Biden had a fundraiser for Boxer in September.
CQ Politics: Lee, Bridgewater Fight in Tight Contest Tuesday
With just five days to go, the GOP Senate primary in Utah between businessman Tim Bridgewater and lawyer Mike Lee is getting nasty — at least by Beehive State standards. That’s because the winner is all but certain to win the general election this fall, and Bridgewater and Lee have only ramped up their attack machines since they toppled Sen. Bob Bennett at the state GOP convention in May.
Washington Post: N.C. GOP congressional candidate on oil spill: 'Maybe they wanted it to leak'
A GOP candidate for the House in North Carolina said during a news conference that "there was some sort of collusion" between BP and the government that allowed the Gulf Coast oil spill to happen. William 'Bill' Randall III is competing June 22 in a Republican primary run-off in the 13th district against Ralph 'Bernie' Reeves III. In the video from News14Carolina, Randall asserts that the government let BP get away with breaking offshore drilling regulations, which then led to the oil spill fiasco.
Arizona Republic: Donations in support of Ariz. immigration law near $20,000
Gov. Jan Brewer's office has received nearly $20,000 in private donations to help Arizona mount a legal defense against lawsuits related to the state's tough new immigration law. Nearly 440 individuals in 46 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have contributed to the fund. The smallest contribution is $1 and the largest is for $750, which came from a Kansas resident, according to a list of donors provided at The Republic's request. The office said it plans to deposit an additional $7,000 into the fund Thursday. The money will likely come in handy.
The Hill: Black Caucus defends Rep. Watt amid House ethics controversy
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday defended a colleague who is involved in an ethics controversy. They also expressed concern about how the House Office of Congressional Ethics is operating, making their case for changes to the lower chamber’s ethics process. CBC lawmakers say Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), one of eight lawmakers the OCE is scrutinizing information on, has been a leader on ethics-related issues. They say Watt has advised fellow members on legal and ethics matters.
Wall Street Journal: Bill Gives Public Workers Clout
The Senate is moving closer to passing legislation that would require states to grant public-safety employees, including police, firefighters and emergency medical workers, the right to collectively bargain over hours and wages. The bill, known as the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, would mainly affect about 20 states that don't grant collective-bargaining rights statewide for public-safety workers or that prohibit such bargaining. State and municipal associations, as well as business groups, oppose it, saying it will lead to higher labor costs and taxes, at a time of budget deficits.
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CNN: BP chief to testify to uncertainty of efforts to stop oil leak
Eight weeks after an explosion uncorked a massive oil spill into the Gulf, BP still does not know whether its efforts to stanch the flow will soon succeed, its CEO will testify Thursday. "We cannot guarantee the outcome of these operations, but we are working around the clock with the best experts from government and industry," Tony Hayward says in prepared testimony to be delivered before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
CNN: BP: We'll pay the bill for now
BP will continue to pay the costs for the oil spill cleanup and will work out with its drilling partners later who is liable for the costs, an executive for the oil giant told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday. The government bills the companies responsible for the disaster on one invoice, said Craig Bennett, director of the National Pollution Fund. It doesn't matter if one or all companies pay the bill. However, the chief executive officer of rig owner Transocean, Steve Newman, said his company is a BP subcontractor and is only liable for any diesel fluid that has been spilled. None has been found in the waters, he said. To date, the Coast Guard has billed BP and four other companies $71 million and another charge of $50 million is imminent, said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management.
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CNN: More aid arrives for those fleeing Kyrgyzstan
The first U.N. aid plane arrived Wednesday in Uzbekistan to help the thousands of people who have fled ethnic clashes in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, officials with a U.N. Refugee agency said Wednesday. The cargo plane carrying about 800 lightweight tents will add to a growing effort to try and aid the estimated 100,000 people who have fled fighting in Kyrgyzstan for refugee camps in Uzbekistan. Several countries, including the United States, Germany and Russia, also have sent aid.
CNN: Iran starting work on new nuclear reactor, official says
Iran is starting design work on a new nuclear reactor, the head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization said Wednesday, according to Iranian media. The design should be complete in two to three years and the reactor should be operational within five, Ali Akbar Salehi told the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The remarks come a week after the United Nations Security Council slapped new sanctions on Iran as punishment for its controversial nuclear program.
BBC News: Afghanistan's President Karzai set for Japan talks
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai is beginning a visit to Japan, one of his country's biggest donors. He's seeking support to create jobs to try to persuade Taliban fighters to lay down their arms. But he is likely to face tough questions over governance and corruption. The issue is likely to dominate the meeting between Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
Wall Street Journal: France Seeks to Raise Retirement Age in Bid to Tame Deficit
France announced an increase in its standard retirement age to help reduce the debt of the state-run pension system, but union leaders immediately protested and promised strike action. The conservative government said Wednesday it would introduce a bill this summer to raise the standard minimum retirement age to 62 years old from the current 60. Labor Minister Eric Woerth said the measure—coupled with a small increase in income tax on the rich and economic growth—would allow France to fix its pension system in the next few years.
BBC News: EU leaders seek to keep lid on debt crisis
EU leaders are to meet to tackle the challenge of getting economic growth back on track while reining in the worst public debts for decades. Leaders are intent on preventing contagion from the Greek budget crisis. Plans to improve budget scrutiny and sanctions to punish reckless spending will also be discussed.
CNN: American detained in Pakistan moved by government
Gary Faulkner, the Colorado man arrested in Pakistan while hunting for Osama bin Laden, has been moved to Islamabad by the Pakistani government, his brother said Wednesday. Dr. Scott Faulkner said Jim Flowers from the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, told him the Pakistani government is still questioning Gary Faulkner and that he has not been charged with anything.
Der Spiegel: Swedish Crown Princess Victoria Takes on World Cup
On Saturday, Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria will marry her fiancé, a former fitness instructor. The event is expected to be a boon to both the monarchy and that part of the media that thrives on sentimental stories. Princess Victoria is the opposite of Lady Di: She, her love and her fiancé are all authentic. After a torturous eight years of waiting, after the objections of her strict father and after overcoming life-threatening illnesses - in her case bulimia and in his a kidney transplant - Crown Princess Victoria and her former fitness instructor Daniel Westling are finally about to say "I do" to each other, and what do they get? Practical gifts.
BBC News: Syria warns of backlash on Israel over Gaza flotilla
Israel's attack on the Gaza aid ship has increased the chances of war in the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told the BBC. He said Syria was working to prevent a regional war, but there was no chance of a peace deal with the current Israeli administration, which he called a "pyromaniac government". Mr Assad also rejected claims he was arming Hezbollah in Lebanon. He said that Middle East was going through a period of momentous change.
Wall Street Journal: Spain Faces Fight Over Job-Market Measures
Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero issued a decree containing measures to overhaul Spain's labor market, but parliamentary leaders are expected to bicker over the content, renewing concerns that flagging popular support for Spain's leader could upend the government's reform drive. The labor-market overhaul, which would make it cheaper for employers to lay off workers, is among a number of reforms the government believes are necessary to make the economy more competitive and regain investor confidence.
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CNNMoney: AT&T and Apple's marriage made in hell
AT&T's epic iPhone 4 pre-order snafu on Tuesday was the latest in a long line of headaches the carrier has caused Apple. But even with concerns that AT&T accidentally revealed some subscribers' account information to other customers during Tuesday's fiasco, it's unlikely that Apple will suffer much fallout from its latest carrier crisis. Apple's public comments about AT&T have largely been positive, often focusing on the substantial monetary investment that AT&T has put into improving its network. But behind the scenes, experts believe Apple is irate.
CNN: Union rep, company: Spirit Airlines, pilots reach tentative agreement
Spirit Airlines reached a tentative agreement with its pilots on Wednesday that will end the five day old strike that halted the airline's operations, a union official said. Pilots will return to work and Spirit's operations will resume on Friday, the airline said on its website.
New York Times: Housing Market Slows as Buyers Get Picky
Before the recession, people simply looked for a house to buy. Later they got squeamish just thinking about buying. Now they are on a quest for perfection at the perfect price. Exacting buyers are upending the battered real estate market, agents and other experts say, leading to last-minute demands for multiple concessions, bruised feelings on all sides and many more collapsed deals than usual. Everyone expected the housing market to suffer at least a temporary hangover after the government’s $8,000 tax credit expired, but not necessarily this much.
Bloomberg: Asia Stocks, Metals Drop on Housing Starts; Yen Gains on Spain
Asian stocks dropped for the first time in six days and metals fell after U.S. housing starts plunged the most in more than a year. The yen gained as Spain’s plan to publish bank stress tests renewed European debt concern. Housing starts slumped 10 percent, the biggest decline since March 2009, according to figures from the Commerce Department. European Union leaders may agree on ways to tighten financial-market regulation at a summit meeting today and Spain’s central bank said yesterday it plans to publish the results of stress tests carried out on the nation’s lenders to counter speculation it needs international aid.
Washington Post: Washington Post Co. stock first to trigger SEC's new circuit breakers
Erroneous trades briefly prompted shares of The Washington Post Co. to more than double in value Wednesday afternoon, triggering for the first time new circuit breakers put in place by the Securities and Exchange Commission after the "flash crash" that sent markets plunging last month. A NYSE Euronext official said that trading in Post Co. stock was halted at 3:07 p.m. after three apparently erroneous trades went through NYSE Arca, an all-electronic trading platform. Two of the trades were for $919.18 per share, and another went through at $929.18 per share. It is still unclear exactly how the error occurred.
Wall Street Journal: End Is Seen to Free Checking
Bank of America Corp. and other banks are preparing new fees on basic banking services as they try to replace revenue lost to regulatory rules, in a push that is expected to spell an end to free checking accounts for many Americans. Free checking accounts, which have been widely available for more than a decade, have been a boon to middle-class consumers and attracted low-income customers to the banking system for the first time. Customers will likely be required to pay new monthly maintenance fees on the most basic accounts that don't generate a lot of activity. To avoid a fee, customers will have to maintain certain account balances or frequently use other banking services, such as credit and debit cards, automated teller machines and online accounts.
Fortune: BP slashes dividend
BP ended weeks of speculation Wednesday by canceling its quarterly dividend for the rest of this year. Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said the London-based oil giant made the decision after a White House summit with President Obama. The company agreed to set aside $20 billion over four years to pay claims tied to a massive oil spill on a deepwater well it was digging. Svanberg said the company made the decisions because "we care about the small people" affected by the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Wall Street Journal: Gates, Buffett Goad Peers to Give Billions to Charity
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates called Wednesday on their billionaire peers to give away half of their wealth. The pronouncement by Messrs. Buffett and Gates stems from a series of dinners the two men held over the past year to discuss the effects of the recession on philanthropy with some of the nation's richest people, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, investor Ronald O. Perelman and David Rockefeller, his family's patriarch.
Bloomberg: Asian Nations Impose Curbs to Slow Expanding Property Bubbles
From Shanghai to Singapore, policy makers are struggling in their efforts to curb property bubbles that threaten to derail the world’s fastest-growing region. In China, home prices are surging at a record pace even after authorities set price ceilings, demanded higher deposits, and limited second-home purchases. In Hong Kong, where the government has pledged to release more land to cool prices, a site auctioned on June 8 fetched the most since the market peak of 1997. It’s a similar story in Singapore and Taiwan as prices defy cooling measures.
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