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.
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CNN: Negotiators work overnight as budget deal deadline looms
With the deadline for a partial government shutdown less than 24 hours away, negotiators worked into Friday morning on a spending plan for the rest of the current fiscal year after a fourth White House meeting in 48 hours between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders failed to reach agreement. It was the second straight night that talks involving Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, led to their aides being charged with trying to work out remaining differences in the ensuing hours. In statements to reporters, Obama and the congressional leaders all said they had narrowed their differences but conceded that more work was needed. No details of the outstanding issues were provided.
Washington Post: As shutdown looms, Boehner and Reid rely on their right hands in negotiations
The real negotiations to reach a budget deal occur in unscheduled visits and late-night phone calls between two men you’ve probably never heard of. At one end of the Capitol is Barry Jackson: quiet and unflappable, a plump, shaggy and rumpled Midwesterner who loves auto racing (he’s a regular at the Indy 500) and settled in Washington 20 years ago as John Boehner’s right-hand man. At the other end is David Krone: hard-nosed and crafty, a multimillionaire former cable lobbyist who travels around playing the best golf courses, prefers fine shirts and custom-tailored suits, usually pinstriped (“Definitely not Jos. A. Bank,” says an associate), and looks up to his boss, Harry Reid, the way a son idolizes his father.
CNNMoney: The price of a shutdown
So if the federal government shuts down, taxpayers would save a lot of money, right? Not quite. It would actually cost taxpayers money. And for every day the shutdown continues, the bill would go up. "There is absolutely no way this saves money. Zip," said Bo Cutter, former director of the National Economic Council and a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. It's pretty hard to put an accurate price tag on a shutdown. Official estimates of the costs incurred during last major shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 vary widely.
CNNMoney: Government shutdown threat paralyzes contractors
MicroTech CEO Tony Jimenez is 24 hours away from sending his 400 employees home for the weekend - with no idea when, or if, they'll be able to return to their jobs. "This is just not something you build into your business plan," he says of the government's looming shutdown. MicroTech, based in Vienna, Va., is one of the thousands of government contractors whose workers function as ad hoc federal employees. Jimenez's employees work on site at agencies including the Department of Defense, Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs - and they have no idea what to expect if the government shuts down at midnight on Friday. The government's 2 million civilian workers - up to 800,000 of whom would likely be furloughed - are also in the dark, wondering if their jobs count as "essential" and if not, if they'll be paid retroactively for the days they're barred from working. For contractors, the uncertainty is even worse.
CNNMoney: FDA will be 'severely' limited by shutdown
A government shutdown will severely restrict food and drug inspections, an official with the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday. "We will be pretty severely limited. We're hopeful that a resolution is reached before it comes to that," the official said. The FDA, which is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, consists of nine centers and offices and employs 13,000 workers. The official did not say how many of those employees will be furloughed by a shutdown.
CNN: Shutdown would take away $32 million a day from national parks
An average of $32 million a day in national parks revenue could be shut off if the Beltway showdown results in a government shutdown, officials say. The measure would be the first shutdown in more than 15 years, shuttering national parks, seashores and historic sites, and barring some 800,000 daily visitors, according to David Barna, a spokesman for the National Parks Service. Places such as Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona would be closed as a result of the impasse.
CNNMoney: Economic reports would be delayed by shutdown
Is the economy getting better or worse? Are businesses hiring or laying off? These are just two difficult questions that might get even trickier to answer if the government shuts down on Friday due to a budget impasse between Congress and the White House. Both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Commerce Department say they will forgo releasing regularly scheduled economic reports. If the shutdown occurs, the BLS won't give a report on Thursday about how many people have filed for first-time unemployment benefits, according to agency spokesman Gary Steinberg. And if the shutdown were to drag out to Fri., May 6, the mother of all economic reports - the monthly jobs report - would also be skipped.
CNN: Bachmann: Government shutdown is an admission of failure
GOP Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann says that when the government shuts down it is an admission of failure. And if she were commander-in-chief, the potential presidential candidate told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that she would gather the party leadership in her office, put everything on the table and "stay together until we actually cut a deal." In an interview on CNN's "John King, USA," that aired Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, Bachmann committed to donate her congressional paycheck to military families, if there's a government shutdown. She also called for a bill that would ensure that troops get paid on time in case of a partial shutdown.
CNN: As government shutdown looms some see opportunity
As Congressional leaders Thursday tried to avert a government shutdown, some political leaders saw an opportunity to fundraise and rally their supporters. The executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out an appeal asking for a minimum $5 donation saying the organization wants to raise $100,000 in the next 36 hours. "Show the GOP we WON'T let them get away with it. Help us call them out with a gift of $5 or more to the DSCC's Shut Them Down Project. We need to raise $100,000 in the next 36 hours to call out the GOP extremists and preserve our Senate majority," wrote Guy Cecil in an email titled "Shutdown." Cecil has a tough job ahead of him as he tries to keep Democrats in control of the Senate after next year's election.
CNN: Pelosi: There is a war on women
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi told a summit of female activists she believes Republicans are engaged in a war on women and women's rights. "There is actually a war on women," the minority leader told several hundred activists attending the Women Money Power Summit sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation. "Abortion is one issue but contraception and family planning and birth control are opposed by this crowd too. Understand what is at risk here," Pelosi said, referring to proposals promoted by the new House Republican leadership.
CNN: Results of Wisconsin Supreme Court race reveal new winner
The discovery of additional ballots in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court election battle have delivered a twist, putting Justice David Prosser, previously thought to be behind by roughly 200 votes, ahead of JoAnne Kloppenburg. In a news conference held Thursday evening, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nicklaus announced new vote totals, which indicate that Prosser, thought to be sympathetic toward Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation, received 92,263 votes on election night. JoAnne Kloppenburg, who received support from several unions during her campaign, received only 32,758 votes. But based on unofficial election results, Kloppenburg declared victory Wednesday, the day after the election.
CNN: Military: No problems prepping for end to 'don't ask, don't tell'
Preparations for repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay people from the military have gone better than expected so far, military leaders told a House committee Thursday. "I've been looking for issues, but honestly we haven't seen it," said Gen. James Amos, the U.S. Marine Corps commandant who was perhaps the most resistant of the military chiefs to the repeal measure passed by Congress in December. "There hasn't been the recalcitrant pushback," Amos added. "We haven't seen the anxiety over it from the forces in the field."
CNN: Trump to meet with sponsor of Arizona 'birther bill'
Donald Trump has angered some and pleased others for questioning President Obama's birthplace. What Trump is set to do next will likely keep the spotlight on his actions. On Friday the real-estate mogul and reality TV star will meet with a state lawmaker from Arizona who is sponsoring a so-called "birther bill." Republican Rep. Carl Seel's bill would require any presidential candidate to prove that he or she was, in fact, born in the United States.
CNN: Man sentenced for threatening Cantor
A Philadelphia man was sentenced Thursday to 24 months in prison for threatening to kill the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, prosecutors said. After his prison term, Norman LeBoon will have three years of supervised release, which will include home detention, no internet access, mental health treatment and drug testing. LeBoon, 38, pleaded guilty in November in U.S. District Court to threatening Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia and a member of his family through a YouTube video he produced and transmitted on March 26, 2010.
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CNN: Scientists unsure why dolphins washing up dead
Dead baby bottlenose dolphins are continuing to wash up in record numbers on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and scientists do not know why. Since February 2010 to April 2011, 406 dolphins were found either stranded or reported dead offshore. The occurrence has prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to designate these deaths as an "unusual mortality event" or UME. The agency defines a UME as a stranding incident that is unexpected or involves a significant loss of any marine mammal population.
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CNN: Fresh aftershock in Japan rouses fear, kills 2
A powerful quake struck Japan on Thursday, killing two and triggering a tsunami warning for one prefecture and advisories in others, officials said. The warning and advisories were lifted about 90 minutes later, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, but it left millions of Japanese rattled. The quake was closer to the Japanese coast than last month's 9.0-magnitude quake. There were reports of two casualties in the earthquake zone, and 132 people were injured, officials said. Seventeen of the 132 were thought to have serious injuries, the National Police Agency said.
CNN: NATO may address claims it bombed wrong side in Libya
NATO officials have scheduled a Friday morning news conference where they are expected to address concerns that airstrikes may have mistakenly killed people the alliance's operation is supposed to protect. Four people were killed when aircraft fired missiles on a rebel formation between al-Brega and Ajdabiya on the eastern Libyan battlefront, witnesses told CNN. It was unclear whether Libyan aircraft or NATO fired the missiles, but there haven't been Libyan air force planes in the skies for some time since NATO established a no-fly zone.
CNN: U.N. chief urges Ivory Coast's Gbagbo to take 'last chance' to leave
Defiant as ever, Laurent Gbagbo remained hunkered down Thursday in the basement of his Abidjan residence, as a stern warning came from the United Nations that he should seize his last chance for a graceful exit. About 200 men guarded the Gbagbo residence in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's largest city. Tension was thick after a night of heavy fighting between Gbagbo's men and forces loyal to his rival, Alassane Ouattara, recognized by the international community as the legitimate winner of last November's elections. Ouattara, meanwhile, urged citizens to help rebuild the country and restore democracy.
CNN: Iran exiles in Iraq claim dozens killed in camp attack
Iranian exiles in Iraq said Friday that Iraqi security forces invaded their refugee camp and killed at least 25 people. Hundreds more were injured in the assault at Camp Ashraf, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran said. Iraqi army officials in Diyala province confirmed there was a conflict overnight but said they did not use live ammunition. The officials said Ashraf residents armed with shovels and throwing stones approached longstanding Iraqi positions around the camp and provoked the conflict.
CNN: Hero officer kept Brazilian school massacre from being even worse
Thursday's massacre of 11 students at a Brazilian school could have been even worse, were it not for the heroic actions of a military policeman, according to a statement from the Rio de Janeiro state governor's office. Third Sgt. Marcio Alexandre Alves, 38, and a colleague raced to the Municipal School Tasso da Silveira in Realengo after they were approached by a student two blocks away from the school, who asked them for help, the governor's office said. Upon arriving at the school, Alves heard gunshots and quickly climbed to the second floor. There, he confronted the heavily armed gunman coming out of a classroom, keeping the suspect from ascending to the third floor, where there were more students, the statement said.
CNN: Egyptian troops told not to join Friday protest
Egypt's ruling military council is threatening immediate prosecution before a military tribunal for any troops seen participating in a planned protest in Cairo on Friday. The stern warning, which came Thursday, appeared to be a response to a campaign of public challenges to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, issued by several men who describe themselves as former military officers. In an 11-minute long video posted on YouTube, a man who introduces himself as former air force Maj. Hatem Abadi called on fellow soldiers and officers to join a demonstration expected to be held in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.
CNN: Iran opposition backers claims find of secret Iranian nuclear facility
Supporters of an Iranian opposition group claimed Thursday they have information about another secret facility tied to the Iranian government's nuclear program. According to Alireza Jafarzadeh, an Iranian-American with ties to the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, the facility is at a site referred to as TABA, just west of Tehran, and is designed to manufacture parts for centrifuges used to enrich uranium, a key component for civilian nuclear power as well as for nuclear weapons. A U.S. official who is not authorized to speak on the record said the United States is aware of the facility.
CNN: Kosovo Assembly elects nation's first woman president
The first woman to be president of Kosovo took office Thursday after being elected by the Kosovo Assembly in a special session. Atifete Jahjaga, 35, is the former deputy general director of Kosovo police. She received 80 votes in the 120-member Assembly. Her election follows a ruling by the constitutional court that the process leading to the election of businessman Behgjet Pacolli as president on February 22 was unconstitutional. Opposition members boycotted the session, leaving fewer lawmakers than required by law, it said.
CNN: Somali sentenced to 25 years for armed piracy incident
A Somali man was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for armed piracy in an attack on a Danish merchant ship that began in 2008 and lasted for 71 days. Jama Idle Ibrahim, aka Jaamac Ciidle, and other pirates held the vessel, the M/V CEC Future, from November 7, 2008, until January 16, 2009 in the Gulf of Aden. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia gave Ibrahim the maximum penalty of five years in prison for the piracy conspiracy charge and the maximum penalty of 20 years for the firearm conspiracy charge.
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Halted Record Aid Deal as Yemen Rose Up
The U.S. was on the verge of launching a record assistance package to Yemen when an outbreak of protests against its president led Washington to freeze the deal, officials say, marking a sharper turn in U.S. policy there than the administration has previously acknowledged. The first installment of the aid package, worth a potential $1 billion or more over several years, was set to be rolled out in February, marking the White House's largest bid at securing President Ali Abdullah Saleh's allegiance in its battle against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group behind the failed underwear bombing in 2009 and the foiled air-cargo bombing plot in October.
CNN: President Clinton returns to Haiti to help in ongoing recovery
As Haiti still struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake that struck 15 months ago, former President Bill Clinton is once again headed there. The former president, who oversaw the U.N. aid mission during the aftermath, is traveling to Haiti Thursday night, for several events on Friday, the Clinton Foundation said in a press release. He is scheduled to tour a school and launch a national cholera awareness campaign in the morning, then attend a board meeting for the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti in the afternoon.
CNN: With eye on South China Sea, U.S. might place troops in Australia
American troops might soon find themselves serving in Australia as the United States looks for better access to the South China Sea, the source of much friction between China and many other Pacific nations. During testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Adm. Robert Willard, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said Australians would like to see an increase of U.S. military activities Down Under.
BBC: North Korea parliament silent on Kim Jong-un succession
A rare session of North Korea's parliament, seen as an opportunity to reveal more about political succession, has failed to mention leader Kim Jong-il or a son tipped to replace him. Observers had been looking for clues that the son, Kim Jong-un, would lead a smooth transition as his father ails. But state media made no mention of either man.
Bloomberg: U.S. Says ‘Flawed’ UN Climate Talks Make Treaty ‘Not Doable’
The U.S. government’s lead envoy on climate change said the United Nations talks aimed at negotiating a binding treaty to curb global warming are based on “unrealistic” expectations that are “not doable.” Todd Stern, the State Department official who heads the U.S. delegation at the 192-nation discussions, said that a meeting this week in Bangkok was “marked by struggles over the agenda” similar to “bickering over the shape of the negotiating table.” The comments were the strongest criticism yet from the U.S. of the process aimed at capping greenhouse gases. They reduce the chances of a breakthrough this year and may distract from work at a UN meeting in New York today that will sketch options for raising $100 billion a year in climate aid.
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CNN: Toyota Motor Corp. to restart output but at half capacity
All the assembly lines will begin rolling again for Toyota Motor Corp. beginning April 18, but only for a limited time and at less than full capacity, the company announced Friday. A spokesman for the company said that all 18 of its manufacturing facilities in Japan will be open and running between April 18 and 27, but only at about half capacity. "We'll have to look at the parts situation after that and the overall manufacturing capability," said Toyota's Paul Nolasco, adding that it was still unclear when full and regular capacity would be complete.
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