POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, April 5, 2011
April 5th, 2011
05:05 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, April 5, 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.

Compiled by Greg Clary

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

CNN: Obama invites congressional leaders for budget talks
President Barack Obama has invited congressional leaders for a meeting Tuesday to try to push through a budget deal three days before the deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown. The meeting comes as Republican and Democratic leaders signaled a continuing stalemate in negotiations on how much to cut government spending for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30. Without a deal by Friday, when the current spending authorization measure expires, parts of the government will shut down.

CNN: Ryan to unveil budget plan that cuts $6 trillion in 10 years
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, will unveil a highly anticipated 2012 Republican budget proposal Tuesday that would cut about $6 trillion over 10 years, according to GOP sources familiar with the document. The plan, the most detailed economic guidepost for the new House GOP majority, would also mean dramatic changes to those political lightning rods – entitlements. The GOP budget blueprint calls for a controversial overhaul of Medicare, the health care program for seniors. And it imposes deep cuts in Medicaid, which provides health benefits to low-income Americans.

The Hill: Dems 'likely' to offer budget alternative to Rep. Ryan's plan
House Democrats are "likely" to propose a 2012 budget bill to counter the much-hyped GOP blueprint set for release Tuesday, according to a House Budget Committee aide. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the senior Democrat on the budget panel, is still weighing his options, the staffer emphasized, but is leaning toward offering an alternative to the plan Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will unveil this week. "It is likely," the staffer said Monday, "but he's still talking to folks, and he's still undecided."

CNNMoney: Debt ceiling to be hit by May 16
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told congressional leaders Monday that he now expects U.S. debt to hit the country's $14.294 trillion debt ceiling "no later than May 16." "Although these projections could change, we do not believe they are likely to change in a way that would give Congress more time in which to act," Geithner said in a letter. Earlier, Treasury had estimated that the limit would be reached between April 15 and May 31. If the debt limit is not increased by May 16, the Treasury would employ a range of extraordinary measures to prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations.

CNN: Pentagon: Government shutdown threatens military families
The Department of Defense says that if the government shuts down for an extended period, troops including those fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq will not be paid on time, according to a senior defense official. The threat adds to the pressure the Pentagon is trying to put on Congress to pass a proper defense budget, rather than the continuing resolutions it has operated under for the last few months. The resolutions fund the Department of Defense at a lower rate.

CNN: Accused 9/11 terror suspects to face military trials
Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 terror suspects will face a military trial at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The decision is a sharp reversal for the Obama administration, which wanted the terror suspects to have federal civilian trials. Besides Mohammed, the other suspects to face charges of participating in the 9/11 plot are Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi. All five are at Guantanamo.

NPR: Gen. Petraeus Being 'Seriously Considered' For CIA Director
General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is expected to leave that job by early fall. And the question has been, where does he go from there? Several sources, including government officials, say Petraeus is being seriously considered for CIA director, and would take the job if offered. The current spy chief, Leon Panetta, is currently seen as the top replacement for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who says he will step down this year.

CNN: Gingrich: Obama to 'extort contributions'
Likely 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich reacted to President Obama's reelection announcement Monday, accusing him of trying to "extort contributions" from supporters. "Here's a president who 18 months before the election is going to use his office to extort contributions on a scale we've never seen before," Gingrich said in New Hampshire where he addressed the Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester. "He's in effect trying to create a Chicago style machine for the whole country with a billion dollars."

CNN: 2012ers throw punches at Obama
Likely 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum joined the list of presidential hopefuls using President Obama's re-election announcement as a platform to voice criticism of the current economic climate under Obama. "We can't take four more years of the 'change' the Obama Administration has forced upon America," Santorum said in a release Monday. "The only thing that has changed is the amount of our debt, the size of our government, the loss of our freedom, the fewer jobs for those wanting work, the diminished stature of America, and an expensive military commitment without a clear national security purpose."

New York Times: Wisconsin Election Is Referendum on Governor
Until a few weeks ago, this state’s election on Tuesday for a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court was widely expected to be dull and predictable. But fights over the agenda of Wisconsin’s newly powerful Republicans, including cuts to collective bargaining rights, have turned this quiet judicial match into a bitter, expensive, highly personal and politicized battle, inflamed with advertising dollars expected to reach into the millions from outside liberal and conservative groups, including the Tea Party Express. The race has turned into a referendum on Wisconsin’s new Republican governor, Scott Walker, his collective bargaining bill, and, more broadly, the Republican politicians who now control the Capitol.

CNN: Source: Pig's foot sent to congressman's office
A frozen pig's foot and a note laced with anti-Semitic rants were sent to Rep. Peter King's Capitol Hill office, a congressional source familiar with the situation confirmed to CNN Monday. The source said the note included statements such as "evil Jews will return this hoof to Palestine." Neither King nor his aides have seen the package, the source said, because all mail sent to the U.S. Capitol is now screened and the package was intercepted before it went to his office. King's office was notified Monday afternoon.

CNN: Blagojevich seeks release of Obama's FBI interview
Lawyers for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich are asking a federal judge to order the government to turn over summaries of a December 2008 FBI interview with then President-elect Barack Obama. In a motion filed Monday, Blagojevich's lawyer argued that Obama's interview might include information that contradicts witnesses expected to testify at the upcoming retrial for Blagojevich on corruption-related charges.

NATIONAL
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CNN: FAA to issue directive demanding inspections of older 737s
The Federal Aviation Administration plans to issue a directive Tuesday mandating operators of about 175 older Boeing 737s to conduct inspections for wear and tear. The "emergency directive" comes just days after a Boeing 737 flown by Southwest Airlines made an emergency landing with a hole in its fuselage. The FAA mandate would affect about 80 U.S.-registered 737-300s, 737-400s and 737-500s, mostly operated by Southwest. The remaining 95 or so aircraft are registered outside the United States.

CNN: Search to resume for missing woman after more human remains found
The search resumes Tuesday in an area near Gilgo Beach on Long Island, New York, after officials found the remains of eight people while searching for a missing New Jersey woman. Shannan Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City has been missing since May and was last seen alive in the Gilgo Beach area. As authorities searched for clues about her disappearance last year, they uncovered the bodies of four prostitutes in various stages of decomposition. An additional body was found March 29 off Ocean Parkway, west of Cedar Beach. When medical examination determined they were not Gilbert's remains, the police continued to search. On Monday, they found the remains of three additional people.

CNN: Government investigates DOT's use of 'purchase cards'
Government auditors said Monday they are launching an investigation into possible misuse of government-issued purchase cards at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The department's Inspector General's Office said the audit of employees' use of the "SmartPay" purchase cards follows the conclusion of two cases that "have revealed control weaknesses" within the Federal Aviation Administration. Department employees used the cards to buy more than $200 million in products and services in fiscal 2010, the office said.

Sports Illustrated: Walker's dream scenario plays out amid UConn's championship glory
The visions came to Kemba Walker at some point during his historic comet-ride through college basketball's postseason. The Connecticut guard can't remember when they began, but he knows that by the time the Huskies arrived in Houston for the Final Four, he couldn't close his eyes without seeing them. Walker's mind had crafted a hoops fantasy slideshow. A ladder. Scissors. A net. His teammates standing on a stage, smiling and singing along to One Shining Moment. On Monday, Walker and the Huskies made those visions reality. As UConn's band blasted DJ Khaled's All I Do Is Win and workers moved ladders under each basket, the Huskies swayed back and forth wearing caps emblazoned with No. 1. They had rolled to a 53-41 win against Butler, denying America its Cinderella story and placing controversial, curmudgeonly coach Jim Calhoun in the most select of company. In the process, Walker capped a historic postseason run, averaging 24.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and five assists and willing the Huskies to 11 consecutive postseason wins.

INTERNATIONAL
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CNN: Libyan rebels scoff at idea of Gadhafi's son taking over
With no end to Libya's bloody war in sight, a source close to the country's leadership said a Libyan envoy is floating the idea of ruler Moammar Gadhafi passing his power to a son - a notion rebel leaders deem merely cosmetic. Under the proposal, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, 38, would help to usher in swift reform, the source said. But Saif Gadhafi has become one of his father's most outspoken defenders since the start of the unrest, despite once being perceived as a leading reformer in the Libyan government. But a proposal to shift power from Gadhafi to his second-oldest son is "a ridiculous offer," said Ali Aujali, a former Libyan ambassador to the United States who now represents the Libyan opposition in Washington.

Financial Times: Libyan rebels set for first oil exports
Libyan rebels are set for their first oil export as soon as Tuesday as they seek funding to sustain their uprising against Muammer Gaddafi's rule. The Liberia-flagged Equator tanker was off Port Said, Egypt, early on Monday and is expected to dock at the Marsa el-Hariga crude oil export terminal near Tubruq, in east Libya, on Tuesday morning, according to Lloyd's Intelligence, the shipping industry data provider.

CNN: Japan official apologizes for dumping radioactive water into Pacific
A top Japanese official apologized Tuesday for the dumping of 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea, acknowledging the toll the ordeal has taken on fishermen but deeming it a necessary evil to avoid even more problems, and contamination, outside the embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. The process, which began Monday, of expelling contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean will take five days, according to an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant.

CNN: Ouattara forces say they have surrounded Ivory Coast palace
Forces loyal to President Alassane Ouattara have surrounded the residence of rival Laurent Gbagbo, a spokesman for Ouattara told CNN Monday night. Patrick Achi said he is about 80% sure that Gbagbo is still inside the presidential palace and will be captured by Tuesday. "We do not see why he shall not surrender," Achi said, adding the new government may seek to have Gbagbo tried by the International Court of Justice.

CNN: Protests continue in Afghanistan against Quran burning
About 1,000 protesters gathered in front of Kabul University on Tuesday morning, as protests continue throughout Afghanistan to condemn the burning of a Quran by a pastor in the United States. The demonstrators marched toward the city center amid a heavy police presence but without incident, said Kabul City police official Abdullah Mahboob. The sight was in marked contrast to earlier demonstrations, some of which turned deadly.

CNN: U.S. trying to help Yemeni president leave, officials say
The U.S. is helping to mediate a transition out of office for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and say a departure date for the president is one issue that is being discussed, two Yemeni officials tell CNN. The timing is delicate, officials say, because they want to avoid any steps that could further destabilize Yemen or interrupt counterterrorism efforts in a country that U.S. officials believe is home to some of the most active al Qaeda operatives in the world. The White House has signaled disenchantment with the process.

CNN: Preliminary results: Michel Martelly beats Mirlande Manigat in Haiti
Flamboyant carnival musician Michel Martelly edged out former Haitian first lady Mirlande Manigat in a pivotal presidential runoff vote held last month, according to preliminary results released Monday. Martelly, 50, took 67.6% of the vote, while Manigat, 70, received 31.5%, according to Pierre Thibault, spokesman for Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council. After the announcement, streets around the electoral council in Petionville filled with Martelly's spirited supporters, who chanted "Tete Kale," or bald head - one of Martelly's many nicknames.

CNN: 32 killed in U.N. plane crash in Congo, official says
One person survived the crash of a U.N. plane that killed 32 others in the Congo on Monday, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said. The aircraft, which carried 33 people, belonged to MONUSCO, the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a Congo Transportation Ministry official. The plane crashed early afternoon Monday while attempting to land at the Kinshasa airport after a flight from Goma in the eastern part of the vast nation in central Africa, the official said.

Financial Times: Cameron seeks to renew links with Pakistan
David Cameron will call on Tuesday for a "fresh start" in Anglo-Pakistan relations on a visit to Islamabad aimed at patching up differences with one of Britain's most important security allies. During a one-day trip to a nation critical of UK counter-terrorism efforts and the war in Afghanistan, the prime minister will deliver a conciliatory speech that attempts to "clear up misunderstandings of the past" and strengthen an "unbreakable partnership". Relations with Islamabad have gone through a rocky period after Cameron last year accused Pakistan of "looking both ways" on exporting terrorism while on a tour of India, causing a diplomatic incident early in his premiership.

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

Wall Street Journal: Office-Space Occupancy on the Rise
The amount of occupied office space in the U.S. continued to inch higher during the first quarter of 2011 as businesses slowly began to expand. Average effective rents, which include such benefits as free rent and interior work, rose by 0.5% to $22.20 a square foot, according to property-research firm Reis Inc. This marked the second consecutive quarter of rent increases and more evidence the industry has finally turned the corner after more than two years of dramatic rent and occupancy drops. However, rents are still well below the highs of 2008, when effective rents reached $25 a square foot.

In Case You Missed It

9/11 suspects will have their day in a different court. CNN's Samantha Hayes reports.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/04/05/hayes.911.suspects.trial.cnn

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