POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, April 4, 2011
April 4th, 2011
04:44 AM ET
3 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Monday, April 4, 2011

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

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Obama to announce bid for re-election, sources say
President Barack Obama plans to send supporters a text or e-mail message announcing his intention to run for re-election, multiple Democratic sources tell CNN. The message, which might include a video that would be posted online as well, could come as early as Monday morning. The sources say Obama's team also hopes to file papers with the Federal Election Commission on Monday to launch his 2012 re-election campaign. The timing of the announcement and the filing could change depending on outside events. The White House is closely watching negotiations on Capitol Hill over the 2011 spending bill, which must be resolved this week to avoid a government shutdown.

CNN: Senators expect budget deal to avoid government shutdown
Top senators said Sunday that they believe Congress will reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown this week, but there was little consensus on two larger budget battles looming in coming months. Negotiations on federal spending for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends September 30, have agreed on a target figure for a compromise on cuts. Now the question is whether they can work out exactly what programs should get axed.

CNN: House budget chairman to propose Medicare, Medicaid changes
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan said Sunday he will unveil a Republican budget for 2012 this week that proposes dramatic changes to Medicare, Medicaid and other political lightning rods. The plan, to be released Tuesday, calls for a controversial overhaul of Medicare, the health care program for seniors, and would impose deep cuts in Medicaid, which provides health benefits to low-income Americans, Ryan told "Fox News Sunday." Starting 10 years from now, in 2021, elderly Americans would receive government help in paying health insurance premiums instead of enrolling in the government-run Medicare program, Ryan said. He rejected the label of "vouchers" for the payments, calling them "premium assistance" payments instead.

CNN: Next battle in Congress heats up
Republican Sen. John Cornyn said he will not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it’s accompanied by systematic reforms to address long-term spending and the national debt. “That's the price that's going to have to be paid, systemic reforms, in order to get Republican support for raising the debt ceiling, otherwise I think you are going to see Democrats having to do that all by themselves,” Cornyn said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Texas senator and member of the Senate Budget Committee also voiced his support for a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution as a way to ensure the federal government lives within its means “instead of spending money we don’t have.”

CNN: White House appeals health care decision to federal court in Atlanta
The Obama administration has formally asked a federal appeals court in Atlanta to rule in favor of the sweeping health care reform law. The Justice Department filed its brief Sunday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit over a key provision of the law requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance or face severe financial penalties. A federal judge in Florida had ruled that part of the law unconstitutional on January 31, setting up the current appeal. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit will hear oral arguments in the case in June.

CNN: Rogers: Libya defectors good news for U.S.
The United States still does not have enough information about rebel forces in Libya to arm them, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers told CNN on Sunday. Rogers welcomed the defection of more members of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime, including Foreign Affairs Minister Moussa Koussa, who fled to Britain last week. "Every time there's a defection from the Gadhafi regime, it's good news for the rebels and good news for us," said Rogers, R-Michigan.

CNN: Former Obama adviser says coalition can’t leave Libya until Gadhafi’s out
Former Obama National Security Adviser Jim Jones said the international coalition in Libya cannot leave the country until Moammar Gadhafi is out of power. Jones said the problem now is how to transition from the humanitarian mission currently underway to preventing the African leader from staying in power. “The problem is that while everybody wants to see Gadhafi leave, either be removed or leave on his own, that end state is not yet clear,” Jones said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Unfortunately most people want perfect clarity in a situation where clarity doesn’t really exist yet.”

CNN: Sources say Kaine plans to announce Senate bid
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is planning to announce he will run in 2012 for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat currently held by fellow Democrat Jim Webb, who is retiring, two senior Democratic sources told CNN on Sunday. One source said Kaine's announcement will come in the next two weeks. President Barack Obama has publicly prodded Kaine, a former Virginia governor, to run for the seat, which is in a state Obama won in 2008 and needs to hold onto in his re-election bid.

NATIONAL
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CNN: Southwest to cancel about 100 flights as inspections continue
Southwest Airlines expects to cancel about 100 flights from its Monday schedule as investigators continue inspecting its fleet, the airline said. The Texas-based airline grounded 79 planes for inspection after a hole opened on top of a Boeing 737 mid-flight Friday. It canceled approximately 600 flights to accommodate the inspections: 300 on Saturday and 300 flights on Sunday. So far, investigators have found indications of cracks in three other aircraft, the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday. Of the planes inspected, 19 had returned to service by Sunday afternoon, the airline said.

CNN: Despite Gulf oil spill, rig owner executives get big bonuses
Declaring 2010 "the best year in safety performance in our company's history," Transocean Ltd., owner of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig that exploded, killing 11 workers, has awarded its top executives hefty bonuses and raises, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That includes a $200,000 salary increase for Transocean president and chief executive officer Steven L. Newman, whose base salary will increase from $900,000 to $1.1 million, according to the SEC report. Newman's bonus was $374,062, the report states. Newman also has a $5.4 million long-term compensation package the company awarded him upon his appointment as CEO in March 2010, according to the SEC filing.

CNN: Some relatives of 9/11 victims object to repository plan
A group of 9/11 victims' family members are up in arms over a plan to house the unidentified remains of those who died at ground zero in the lower level of the museum being built to honor the tragedy. Critics are against storing the remains underground and claim they were never consulted about the decision of where to build a repository. The plan calls for a repository and laboratory controlled by the city medical examiner to be built on the ground floor of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which is set to open next fall.

INTERNATIONAL
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CNN: Misrata wounded speak of fighting, resolve
Hundreds of people hurt in the fighting in the Libyan city of Misrata were picked up by a Turkish hospital ship Sunday and spoke of the violence they left behind. Despite the fierce fighting that left many of them severely wounded or mourning family members, those aboard said they would return to the besieged city in a heartbeat. "By God, I would go back to Misrata the first chance I get," said Muhammad el Suker, 28. A salesman-turned-rebel fighter, el Suker was hit in the stomach by shrapnel, forcing him to leave behind his father, mother, seven brothers and three sisters. He said he is worried about his family and painted a disturbing picture of a war-torn city. "There are so many killed," he said. "They're killing, violating our honor, robbing our homes. Anything that is wrong, they are doing. You can't imagine what's going on there."

CNN: Libyan opposition meeting with British diplomats
British diplomats were on the ground in Libya meeting with key figures of the opposition, but no decision has been made by Western allies on whether to arm them, the UK Foreign Office said Sunday. "What we are engaged in is protecting the civilian population in Libya, which we have done with a lot of success ... when people look at what we're doing in Libya they do have to look at what would be happening if we didn't do what we'd done over the last few weeks and it would have been a catastrophic situation," UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said. A spokesperson for the office said the goal of the British diplomatic team is to build on the work of a previous team and to "establish further information about (the opposition), its aims, and more broadly, what is happening in Libya."

The Guardian: RAF stretched to limit, air chief warns
The head of the RAF has issued a blunt warning that the service will need "genuine increases" in its budget over the coming years if it is to continue running the range of operations ministers demand. In an interview with the Guardian, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton said he was trying to protect the core of the RAF during a turbulent period of spending cuts and redundancies, but insisted ministers would have to sanction proper reinvestment. With the RAF playing an important role in Libya, where bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft have all been involved over the past fortnight, he admitted the service was now stretched to the limit.

CNN: French take control of key Ivory Coast airport
French peacekeepers in war-torn Ivory Coast were in control of the airport in the main city of Abidjan, the French Ministry of Defense said Sunday, as a battle for the city seemed to be looming. An additional 350 French troops joined the United Nations peacekeeping mission overnight, the ministry added. There were about 7,500 troops already in the country under the U.N. mandate. United Nations helicopters and French forces patrolled the skies over the city as a tense calm reigned Sunday morning, a local resident told CNN.

CNN: Fence in Pacific to try to corral radiation coming from nuclear plant
Workers at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are onto "Plan C" in their bid to stop highly radioactive water from gushing directly into the Pacific Ocean through a cracked concrete shaft, a Japanese nuclear official said Monday. Neither of the first two attempts to fill up the 20-centimeter (8-inch) crack outside the No. 2 reactor's turbine building - on Saturday by pouring in concrete, and then Sunday by using a chemical compound mixed with sawdust and newspaper - has been successful. As they mull other ways to cut off the leak at its source, workers will install a silt fence - screening usually used to prevent erosion in construction projects - along the damaged sea wall that surrounds the plant, Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency said Monday. The goal is to prevent the spread of radioactive particles into the sea.

CNN: Shrine bombing kills 41 in central Pakistan
A suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in central Pakistan's Punjab province on Sunday killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 100 others, police said. Ahmed Mubarak, the police chief of the Dera Ghazi Khan district, said 10 of the injured are in critical condition. The bomber blew himself up when he was stopped at the entrance of the Sakhi Sarkar shrine, Mubarak said. A second would-be suicide bomber wearing an explosives-laden jacket was arrested at the shrine, Mubarak said.

CNN: Petraeus condemns Quran burning as protests rage on
Top U.S. officials in Afghanistan on Sunday condemned the burning of a Quran in the United States that sparked three days of protests in which more than 20 people died. Burning the Muslim holy book "was hateful, it was intolerant and it was extremely disrespectful and again, we condemn it in the strongest manner possible," said Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan. U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry said in a statement that Americans respect the Quran "and all religious texts and deplore any action that shows disrespect to any religious faith."

CNN: Security forces injure hundreds trying to disperse Yemeni protesters
One person died and at least 830 people were injured Sunday when Yemeni security forces attacked protesters at a square in Taiz, according to information from a field hospital. A local governor denied that there were any deaths. Nine people suffered gunshot wounds, including the person who died, the field hospital information said. More than 60 were injured in the beatings, and the rest were injured from tear gas inhalation, the hospital said. But Taiz Gov. Hamoud al-Soufi denied reports of the killing and said that the clashes did not occur in the square, but on the main street, the state-tun Saba news agency reported. Their being in the street forced riot police to intervene to clear the road, but "infiltrators and some young hotheads" threw stones at soldiers, wounding eight, one seriously, the governor said.

CNN: Death toll in Thailand flooding rises to 51
The death toll from the flash floods that swept through southern Thailand has risen to 51, the public health ministry said Monday. The flooding has affected more than 2 million people in 10 provinces, the country's disaster prevention agency said. While the exact economic loss from the floods had not been determined, the prime minister's office said it would ask for $50 million for rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas.

CNN: Investigators find parts of downed Air France jet
French investigators said Sunday that they have found pieces of the Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing all 228 people on board. Air France Flight 447 disappeared after taking off from Rio de Janeiro on its way to Paris. France's air accident investigation agency, the BEA, said that a team - led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - discovered parts of the aircraft during an underwater search operation conducted within the past 24 hours. The agency did not immediately say what parts of the jet the team found.

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

CNNMoney: Investors remain bullish heading into April
U.S. investors head back to Wall Street in a bullish mood. A better-than-expected jobs report Friday helped boost the Dow Jones Industrial Average, sending it up 1.2% for the week. The gains came a day after the Dow's best first-quarter performance since 1999. With little on the agenda this week, fund managers expect U.S. stocks will hold steady as investors hold out for the start of earnings season later this month. "The path of least resistance remains up," said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at asset management firm BlackRock.

In Case You Missed It

DC schools' test score improvements under Michelle Rhee face scrutiny. CNN's Sandra Endo explains.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/04/03/endo.dc.school.testing.scandal.cnn

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