June 28th, 2010
04:40 AM ET
5 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, June 28, 2010

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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: Senators signal contentious hearing on Supreme Court nominee
Leading senators on the Judiciary Committee signaled a contentious hearing starting Monday on Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination, with some Republicans saying a GOP filibuster was possible. Democrats countered that no nominee from President Barack Obama would have satisfied Republicans. In an exchange on CNN's "State of Union," Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey chided Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas over what Menendez joked were unattainable GOP standards.

CNN Poll: Majority favor increased Wall Street regulation
A growing number of Americans appear to support a key provision in the financial reform legislation that Congress has moved a step closer to final passage. After a grueling 20-hour session, lawmakers early Friday finished melding the House and Senate Wall Street reform bills, bringing Congress closer to passing the most sweeping changes to the financial system since the New Deal. Hours later, President Barack Obama praised Congress. The measure includes the "toughest financial reforms" since the Great Depression, said Obama.

CNN: Obama touts agreements reached at G-20 summit
The Group of 20 leaders meeting in Canada this weekend "have forged a coordinated response to the worst global economic crisis in our time," U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday at the conclusion of the summit. The leaders gathered at the conference agreed to ambitious targets for getting economic deficits under control, pledging to cut them in half by 2013, according to a final declaration issued by meeting participants. Obama said the agreements show that nations can "bridge our differences" and "coordinate our approaches."

CNN: Tea Party Convention moved to October
A National Tea Party Unity convention that was scheduled to be held in Las Vegas in July will now take place in October, according to organizers. The event, organized by Tea Party Nation (a national Tea Party organization) and Free America (a conservative non-profit group) and other organizations, will still be held at the Palazzo Las Vegas Resort. But Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips confirmed to CNN Saturday that the date is being moved from July 15-17 to October in order to hold the event closer to the midterm elections.

Washington Post: Anger doesn't tell whole story of 2010 election season
Angry voters are everywhere. Watch any cable news chat show, read any political blog or peruse the pages of any major newspaper and you will be bombarded with headlines about how the American electorate is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. But is all the coverage right? Are voters more angry now than they were in, say, 2006 or 2008? And is anger the right emotion to describe what is clearly roiling an electorate that has thrown three House members, two senators and a governor out of office so far this year? Yes and no, according to pollsters on both sides of the aisle.

Politico: Dynasties in the dumps in 2010
The 2010 elections have a surprisingly nostalgic feel. Six sons of governors have launched bids for the jobs their fathers once held. A handful of congressional scions have also sought high office for the first time this year. Then there are the two dozen or so House and Senate incumbents whose parents also served in Congress, who'll be on the ballot in November. Yet, while the proliferation of legacy candidates is a familiar and recurring theme in American politics, this year’s version of it isn’t — in a break with custom and in a nod to the current anti-establishment climate, the dynasty candidates aren’t faring so well.

Las Vegas Sun: Democrats rally around Reid at state party convention
Nevada Democrats stuck with familiar themes at the party’s state convention Saturday at the Flamingo, focusing on the two major races of the year, the one for governor and the fight over Harry Reid’s Senate seat. Speakers largely kept to talking about jobs, the economy and education, while they repeatedly praised both Harry and Rory Reid and poked fun at Republicans Brian Sandoval, Sharon Angle and Jim Gibbons. The GOP will return the favor at their state convention, which is scheduled for July 9 and 10 at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson.

CNN: Bitter primary battle spills into Iowa GOP convention
Republican leaders meeting in Des Moines on Saturday were hoping to close the book on a bitter primary battle for governor that pitted conservative-against-conservative in a struggle for control of the Republican Party. Former Gov. Terry Branstad defeated Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts for the GOP gubernatorial nomination earlier this month, but the hard-fought contest caused fractures within the party at a time when Republicans are ramping up efforts to try and defeat Democratic Gov. Chet Culver in November.

CNN: Arizona's Brewer: Most illegal immigrants are 'drug mules'
A labor union representing nearly 20,000 border patrol agents and staff Friday disputed comments made by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that most illegal immigrants coming across the southern border are smuggling drugs. Brewer initially made the comments earlier this month during a debate of Republican gubernatorial candidates. She repeated them Friday when asked by a reporter for the basis of the claim.

Charleston Post and Courier: SLED probing Greene's finances
SLED and the 5th Circuit solicitor's office are investigating the finances of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene to see whether any laws have been broken in the way he has been representing his financial situation to the state court system. SLED will use a new state law that allows the agency to issue an administrative subpoena to financial institutions, agency director Reggie Lloyd confirmed Sunday. Gov. Mark Sanford signed the new law last Thursday. The law requires banks to turn over to SLED basic information about account holders in cases of suspected financial wrongdoing. The confirmation of the formal investigation into Greene's finances is the latest wrinkle in events surrounding Greene, who since winning the June 8 Democratic primary has attracted state and national attention.

CNN: Cornyn: Dems not taking responsibility
With the midterm elections less than five full months away, the man in charge of the GOP’s election effort in the Senate issued a sharp rejoinder Sunday to an oft-repeated message from national Democrats. In the 17 months since President Obama took office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Democratic leaders have frequently said Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats “inherited” a mess on several fronts left behind by the Bush administration acting in league with House and Senate Republicans. Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, suggested it’s time for Democrats to take responsibility for controlling the levers of government.

Politico: Steny Hoyer aims to turn terror tables on GOP
Democrats have long been hobbled by a public image of being weak on terror and wobbly on national defense. But with his party staring down the potential bleak electoral prospects, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is looking to turn that perception on its head, positioning his party as having “aggressively stepped up the fight against terrorists” while Republicans botched war strategy and voted against funding for bolstering multi-pronged defense strategies. And in a pivot, Hoyer, in a speech Monday to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, will explicitly tie the ballooning national debt to the nation’s security, prodding Congress to cut wasteful defense programs.

CNN: GOP's YouCut program hits 1 million votes
One million votes have been cast through the House GOP's YouCut website, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor announced Friday. YouCut, a site launched May 12, allows the public to vote on which programs they think the government should eliminate. Each week, five spending cuts are proposed on the GOP Whip's website. The proposal that receives a majority of votes during a particular week is then brought to the House floor for an up-or-down vote.

CNN: Sen. Robert Byrd hospitalized in serious condition
Sen. Robert Byrd, the 92-year-old Democrat from West Virginia who is the longest-serving Congress member in history, has been hospitalized in serious condition, his office said Sunday. Byrd was admitted to a Washington area hospital last week and his condition is "seriously ill," according to the statement by his office.

CNN: Former VP Cheney's hospitalization related to his heart trouble
The cause for former Vice President Dick Cheney's hospitalization is related to his recurring heart trouble, a family friend of Cheney's told CNN Sunday. Cheney was suffering from atrial fibrillation, or irregular heart rhythm, the friend said. Cheney was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Friday as a result of "progressive retention of fluid related to his coronary artery disease," Cheney's office said.

NATIONAL
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CNN: Marchers celebrate gay pride in parades across the country
Gay pride was on display in towns and cities across the United States Sunday as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people - and their supporters - marched in parades large and small to demand equality, oppose discrimination and express pride in who they are. In New York, the parade featured participants of every age and many backgrounds. Some dressed conservatively, others were decked out in glittering fabrics and some wore next to nothing at all. The atmosphere was festive and open, as marchers carried handmade signs with messages including, "Straight but not narrow-minded" and represented groups including the New York Gay Bloggers.

CNN: Tar balls reported on Mississippi mainland; Alex heads into Gulf
Mississippi officials reported oily tar balls washing up on their mainland shores for the first time Sunday, as authorities throughout the Gulf Coast region kept a wary eye on Tropical Storm Alex. Mississippi officials said while tar balls and glob-like "mousse patties" washed ashore in at least four locations, the areas affected were relatively small and no beaches were closed. Meanwhile, Alex restrengthened into a Tropical Storm Sunday night as it headed into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Weather Service but it is expected to steer clear of oil-affected areas. The storm had temporarily weakened to a tropical depression as it passed over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

INTERNATIONAL
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CNN: Panetta: Afghan war has 'serious problems,' but progress being made
CIA Director Leon Panetta said Sunday that the war in Afghanistan had "serious problems," but the U.S.-led mission was making progress. He cited governance problems, drug trafficking and the Taliban insurgency - all in a tribal society - as the major challenges to the goal of "making sure al Qaeda never finds another safe haven from which to attack this country." Noting increased violence against U.S. and NATO forces in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, Panetta said the "key to success or failure is whether the Afghans accept responsibility" for securing and governing their country.

Washington Post: U.S. officials say Karzai aides are derailing corruption cases involving elite
Top officials in President Hamid Karzai's government have repeatedly derailed corruption investigations of politically connected Afghans, according to U.S. officials who have provided Afghanistan's authorities with wiretapping technology and other assistance in efforts to crack down on endemic graft. In recent months, the U.S. officials said, Afghan prosecutors and investigators have been ordered to cross names off case files, prevent senior officials from being placed under arrest and disregard evidence against executives of a major financial firm suspected of helping the nation's elite move millions of dollars overseas. As a result, U.S. advisers sent to Kabul by the Justice Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have come to see Afghanistan's corruption problem in increasingly stark terms.

CNN: Reports: Iranian officials dismiss latest U.S. sanctions
Iranian officials are dismissing newly passed U.S. sanctions against their country, with one parliament member saying that the measures will only backfire against the United States, according to state-run media reports Saturday. "The U.S. move to impose sanctions on Iran is in fact imposing sanctions on their own firms," the semi-official Iranian Student News Agency quoted Alaeddin Boroujerdi as saying. Boroujerdi is the head of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday approved tough new sanctions on Iran aimed at discouraging the Islamic republic's development of nuclear weapons. The sanctions target companies that sell refined petroleum products to Iran and international banks that do business with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

CNN: G8 criticizes North Korea, Iran in final statement
The Group of Eight rich nations focused on recovery from a global economic crisis in their two-day summit but made note of other thorny issues in their final statement issued Saturday. In it, they singled out Iran and North Korea for criticism. G8 leaders condemned North Korea's communist government for its alleged role in the March 26 sinking of the South Korean navy ship Cheonan that killed 46 sailors.

Washington Post: China pushing the envelope on science, and sometimes ethics
Centuries after it led the world in technological prowess - think gunpowder, irrigation and the printed word - China has barged back into the ranks of the great powers in science. With the brashness of a teenager, in some cases literally, China's scientists and inventors are driving a resurgence in potentially world-changing research. Unburdened by social and legal constraints common in the West, China's trailblazing scientists are also pushing the limits of ethics and principle as they create a new - and to many, worrisome - Wild West in the Far East.

CNN: Pope deplores abuse raid on Belgium church HQ
A raid at the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Belgium by police investigating child abuse was "deplorable," Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday. The pope expressed his "closeness and solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, the searches were carried out" in a letter to the head of the Belgian Bishops Conference, Andre Joseph Leonard. Police were searching for documents related to allegations of child abuse, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor said Thursday.

CNN: Kyrgyzstan approves new constitution
Kyrgyzstan on Sunday approved a new constitution following a nationwide referendum, the state-run Kabar news agency reported. The Kyrgyz government's interim head, Roza Otunbeava, told reporters that Sunday's referendum took place without any reported incidents, paving the way for democratic rule, the news agency reported.

BBC News: Guinea holds first democratic poll since independence
Voters appear to have turned out in large numbers in Guinea to elect a new president, with reports saying people formed long, calm queues. The vote is regarded as the West African country's first democratic election. The poll follows a pledge by military ruler Sekouba Konate to return the country to civilian rule.

CNN: Judge rejects Van der Sloot's unlawful detention motion
A superior court judge in Lima, Peru, upheld the confession and incarceration of Joran van der Sloot in connection with the killing of Stefany Flores, officials said. On Friday, Judge Wilder Casique Alvizuri declared as "unfounded" van der Sloot's habeas corpus claim that his constitutional rights were violated at the time of the confession because he was represented by a state-appointed attorney. Van der Sloot also claimed that his laptop had been improperly searched.

New York Times: Family of Captured Israeli Soldier Press for Deal
The family of Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has been held captive by Hamas in Gaza for four years, began a march to Jerusalem on Sunday aimed at pressing the government to make a deal for the soldier’s release. The march began two days after the fourth anniversary of Sergeant Shalit’s capture and a week after Israel relaxed a blockade against Gaza that had been imposed in part to press for his release. Israel scaled back the embargo in response to tremendous pressure after its deadly raid on a flotilla of aid ships last month aimed at breaking the blockade. Now the Shalits say they fear their son has been forgotten.

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

CNNMoney: Deficit hawks score points at G-20
Leaders of the world's most important economies agreed to ambitious targets for getting deficits under control, pledging to cut them in half by 2013, according to a statement made following the G-20 summit this weekend in Toronto. The promise is just one of the commitments made at the Group of Twenty gathering of representatives from 19 countries and the European Union. The G-20 includes countries with mature economies, such as the United States and Germany, as well as fast growers China and India.

CNNMoney: Stocks: Closing out a rough first half
It's the last week of the month, the second quarter and the first half of the year - and there are big questions about the health of the economy and whether stocks can regain momentum. Weaker economic news, combined with sustained worries about the European debt crisis, have kept stocks volatile and mostly lower following the big rally in 2009 and early 2010. The Dow Jones industrial average is now down 2.7% for the year.

Bloomberg: Dollar, Yen Weaken; Won Gains on G-20 Pledge to Cut Deficits
The dollar and yen weakened and the won gained as concerns about defaults diminished after leaders from the Group of 20 nations endorsed targets to cut deficits. The Japanese and U.S. currencies fell against most of their major counterparts, with the yen declining to 110.70 per euro as of 12:58 p.m. in Tokyo from 110.41 on June 25. The dollar reached the lowest level in almost eight weeks against the Swiss franc.

Wall Street Journal: Taiwan Seeks Closer China Trade Ties
A senior Taiwan official pledged to press ahead with talks on deepening trade and investment links with China, brushing aside demonstrations by tens of thousands of opposition supporters demanding a referendum on an issue they say threatens the island's autonomy. China and Taiwan reached a historic agreement last week on a sweeping trade bill, agreeing to lower tariffs on goods in the textile, auto-parts, machinery and petrochemical sectors, as well as to open their markets for banking and other services. On Sunday, Taiwan's top negotiator, Chiang Pin-kung, told a news conference the two will kick off further negotiations on trade in goods and services and investment protection once the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, or ECFA, takes effect.

CNNMoney: 200,000 could lose out on homebuyer tax credit
Nearly 200,000 homebuyers could lose out on the $8,000 tax credit because they can't get deals done by the June 30 deadline. What did they do wrong? They tried to take advantage of the distressed properties flooding the market. For example, many are trying to take advantage of short sales, buying from sellers who owe more on their mortgage than the home is worth. In these deals, the lender has to agree to forgive the remaining debt, and that can take time - at least two to three months from the time an offer is made until lender approval. And that assumes a relatively clean deal, in which there's no second mortgage. If there are any complications, expect six months or more.

Wall Street Journal: Provision Allows SEC to Give Shareholders a Bigger Voice
A provision in the financial-overhaul bill clears the way for federal regulators to make companies give shareholders a bigger voice in electing corporate directors. But business lobbyists said Friday they would keep fighting to restrict investors' input should the bill pass. The battle involves a proposal that the Securities and Exchange Commission unveiled a year ago to let shareholders nominate their own director candidates using companies' ballots—a measure called "proxy access." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobby, had threatened to sue the agency, arguing it lacks authority to regulate proxy access. But the bill affirms the SEC's right to do so, giving the agency more certainty to move forward.

CNNMoney: Stealth ban on Gulf drilling
The offshore drilling ban imposed after the BP disaster is only supposed to hit operations in deep water - 500 feet or more. But drillers in shallow water say they haven't been issued permits since the April 20 explosion. The delay has already forced hundreds of layoffs, and many more could be on the way.

Bloomberg: Bond Distress Rises as Default Forecasts Vary: Credit Markets
The percentage of corporate bonds considered in distress is at the highest in six months, a sign debt investors expect the economy to slow and defaults to rise. The number of speculative-grade companies worldwide with yields at least 10 percentage points more than government bonds climbed to 399 this month, or 16.7 percent of the total, the highest share since December, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. The ratio compares with 9.2 percent on April 30, which was the lowest since November 2007.

In Case You Missed It

Protesters clash with police at the G-20 summit as world leaders tackle the financial crisis. Jeanne Meserve reports.

CNN's Kate Bolduan takes a look at questions Elena Kagan may face in the upcoming Senate hearings.

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