CNN: Rand Paul's #filiblizzard filibuster
Sen. Rand Paul ended his day-long filibuster at 12:38 a.m. Thursday, almost 13 hours after he began speaking. The Kentucky Republican tried to stall a confirmation vote on CIA Director nominee John Brennan. He took to the Senate floor at 11:47 a.m. ET.
URGENT – North Korea Drills
– (CNN) - North Korea was conducting drills throughout its territory Thursday, the South Korean defense ministry said, adding that they were "unusually grand-scaled." "We are tightening guard and stepping up readiness in case any unexpected or planned provocation happen from North Korea," said Kwon Ki Hyeon of the South Korean defense ministry.'
Reuters: North Korea says to exercise right to preemptive nuclear attack against U.S.: KCNA
SEOUL | Thu Mar 7, 2013 4:21am EST
(Reuters) – North Korea threatened on Thursday to exercise its right to stage preemptive nuclear attack against anyone who attacks as Pyongyang ratcheted up its rhetoric against "hostile" countries as the United Nations readied new sanctions against it.
CNN: Study links gun laws and lower gun mortality
States with the most gun laws experienced a lower overall mortality rate from firearms than did states with the fewest laws, researchers in Boston reported in a study published Wednesday. "States that have the most laws have a 42% decreased rate of firearm fatalities compared to those with the least laws," said Dr. Eric W. Fleegler, an attending physician in pediatric emergency medicine at Boston Children's Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Those states with the most gun laws saw a 40% reduction in firearm-related homicides and a 37% reduction in firearm-related suicides, he said in a telephone interview.
WATCH: VIDEO – CNN's Poppy Harlow talks to an ATF agent about the uphill battle law enforcement faces in battling illegal gun running.
USA Today: Sequestration complicates college aid notices
Colleges play a guessing game every spring when they tell prospective students how much financial aid is available to them. So the federal spending cuts that began with last Friday's sequestration are complicating an already complicated process even more. For some schools, the timing couldn't be worse.
CNN: Arkansas lawmakers back nation's most restrictive abortion bill
Overriding a veto by Arkansas' Democratic governor, the state's Republican-controlled House and Senate approved a bill to ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, the most restrictive such law in the country. Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the bill Monday, saying it "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court."
CNN: Haute cuisine for Obama and GOP senators
In a rare social outing, the president dined with 12 GOP senators, including some of his harshest critics, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. …The other senators invited to the dinner include Bob Corker of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Dan Coats of Indiana, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Pat Toomey Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and John Hoeven of North Dakota. Asked by a reporter how the dinner went, McCain said "just fine" and gave a thumbs-up.
WaPo: Administration debates stretching 9/11 law to go after new al-Qaeda offshoots
A new generation of al-Qaeda offshoots is forcing the Obama administration to examine whether the legal basis for its targeted killing program can be extended to militant groups with little or no connection to the organization responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. officials said. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, a joint resolution passed by Congress three days after the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has served as the legal foundation for U.S. counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda over the past decade, including ongoing drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen that have killed thousands of people.
WaPo: McConnell to oppose Brennan nomination
It took almost 12 hours, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to the Senate floor late Wednesday to voice support for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his hours-long filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA. In doing so, McConnell urged his colleagues to vote against cloture, or ending debate on the Brennan nomination.
WaPo: Paul Ryan, Patty Murray hold the keys to any budget deal
After two years of anxious, high-wire negotiations over the federal budget, an exhausted Washington is about to hand the mess back over to the experts: the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees. In the next few weeks, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will roll out competing proposals for taming the national debt. If lightning strikes, both sides hold out hope that a Ryan-Murray conference committee could become the forum for litigating the partisan dispute over taxes and spending.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Ryan backs off Medicare proposal
Roll Call: Senate Democrats Seek Wider Scope, May Add Appropriations Bills
The continuing resolution that will come out of the Senate will almost certainly be a larger and more complicated measure than the stopgap funding measure the House coped with this week. How far Democrats in the Senate hope to take the bill remains an open question, however, with lawmakers trying to balance concerns over the effects of the sequester on federal agencies and spending on major regulatory initiatives with the fundamental need to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.
Politico: Schumer ends talks with Coburn on guns
Sen. Chuck Schumer is ending the bipartisan gun control talks with Sen. Tom Coburn without a deal, a major setback to President Barack Obama’s effort to pass universal background checks. Schumer will instead file a place-holder background checks bill he proposed before the Coburn talks began that does not incorporate any of the input from the Oklahoma Republican and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). There will be no co-sponsors when the legislation is introduced for the Senate Judiciary Committee markup on Thursday.
CNN: Manchin indicates progress on background check legislation
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, sounded optimistic Wednesday about getting legislation that would expand background checks passed. "I think we've got a good working group that's been moving very, very favorably forward," he said Wednesday on CNN's The Situation Room. …Manchin said he has been working with Republican Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if Coburn was fully on board, Manchin said he couldn't speak for his fellow senator but added he's "very hopeful" that Coburn will back the bill.
WATCH: VIDEO – Sen. Joe Manchin sounded optimistic about getting legislation passed that would expand background checks.
CNN: Graham introduces background check bill with NRA backing
New legislation introduced Wednesday aims to close one loophole in the process of purchasing a gun. The bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham and three other bipartisan lawmakers expands the scope of mental health information submitted to the background check system used by gun sellers. It has the backing of the National Rifle Association, and background check-related legislation has been considered the most likely of the various gun violence proposals to survive the legislative process. It does not address a second loophole in the background check requirements – the gun show loophole – which critics say provides an avenue for people who know they cannot pass a background check to buy firearms. Graham stood with co-sponsors Jeff Flake, R-Arizona and Democrats Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas at a news conference Wednesday and said the bill addresses a “major flaw in the system.”
ALSO SEE: Politico: NRA campaign in high gear
USA Today: Lautenberg bill seeks to shut 'terror gap' in gun sales
Persons on the government's terrorist watch list would be prohibited from buying guns, under a bill re-introduced Wednesday by Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. Under current law, people who are known terrorists or terrorism suspects are barred from flying but can buy guns or explosives.
Arizona Republic: Ex-Sen. Kyl joining D.C. law firm as senior adviser
Former Sen. Jon Kyl has landed a post-Congress position as senior adviser at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington & Burling. An Arizona Republican, Kyl, 70, retired Jan. 3 after serving 26 years on Capitol Hill. He told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday that he will focus his legal expertise on areas that will leverage his lawmaking experience, such as tax policy, national security, immigration and health care.
New Jersey Star-Ledger: Christie touts conservative fiscal philosophy in campaign-style speech to business group
In an election-year speech that wove conservative fiscal policy with bare-knuckle politics, Gov. Chris Christie today said the state and federal response to Hurricane Sandy proved government is big enough already. One million people were evacuated from the Shore, 10 million cubic yards of debris was removed from towns, and in two weeks, power was restored to 95 percent of homes, he said. "I tell you all these things to destroy the myth that we don’t have enough government," Christie said in a 40-minute keynote address to the commercial real estate development association at the SheratonEdisonHotelRaritanCenter.
CNN: Amid angry threats, U.N. to vote on new North Korea sanctions
The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution to strengthen sanctions on North Korea as threats fly back and forth across the heavily militarized border that divides the KoreanPeninsula. With the tighter sanctions looming after North Korea's nuclear test last month, the isolated regime has stepped up its bombastic rhetoric.
NYT: John O. Brennan’s first difficult challenge at the C.I.A. may not be confronting the agency’s future, but its past.
Mr. Brennan, whose nomination is expected to be eventually approved by the Senate, will take charge at the agency where he worked for 25 years just as it faces a sweeping indictment of its now-defunct interrogation program — a blistering, 6,000-page Senate study that includes incendiary accusations that agency officials for years systematically misled the White House, the Justice Department and Congress about the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding that were used on Qaeda prisoners. By the account of people briefed on the report, it concludes that the program was ill-conceived, sloppily managed and far less useful in obtaining intelligence than its supporters have claimed.
WaPo: Kerry finds old friends, new restrictions in his first trip as secretary of state
Secretary of State John F. Kerry called his first foreign trip as the nation’s top diplomat a listening tour, but anyone familiar with his 28 years in the Senate or his 2004 presidential run will not be surprised to learn that Kerry did a lot of talking, too. He sped through nine countries in 11 days, talking to more than 30 prime ministers, presidents and foreign ministers. He spoke French beautifully, German well and English a lot.
WATCH: VIDEO – CNN's Jill Dougherty sits down for a wide-ranging interview with Secretary of State John Kerry in Doha, Qatar.
CNN: U.S.-Venezuela relations likely to remain tense after Chavez
Ever since he called former President George W. Bush "the devil" in a speech to the United Nations, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had been America's boogeyman to the South. Will his death brings the promise of a diplomatic thaw between United States and Venezuela? Not likely. In announcing Chavez's death on Tuesday, his anointed heir, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, accused the United States of a conspiracy to kill Chavez and expelled two American military members working in the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.
The Guardian: Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres
America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war. Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows. funding.
Christian Science Monitor: Report: Flimsy cybersecurity for US military is 'magnet to US opponents'
The US military “cannot be confident” that its computer networks will continue to work in the event of a cyberattack from a reasonably competent enemy. What’s more, the US military’s “dependence” on flimsy security systems “is a magnet to US opponents,” who are increasingly capable of attacking “with potential consequences similar in some ways to the nuclear threat of the Cold War.” That’s the warning out of a new 18-month study from the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board, which formed a task force to review the vulnerability of US military networks.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
WSJ: LaHood Still Has Questions On 787s
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood needs more information to be convinced that Boeing Co.'s BA +0.53% proposed fixes to batteries on its 787 Dreamliner are adequate to enable the jet to resume commercial flights. "I have made it very clear that I want a thorough review" of the Boeing plan, Mr. LaHood told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. "I am going to ask a lot of questions" before a final decision is made. Mr. LaHood's comments are the latest sign that Boeing faces regulatory headwinds in getting quick approval for a package of fixes to the Dreamliner's battery system that it hopes will end the world-wide grounding of its flagship jetliner that started in mid-January.
The Seattle Times: Pilots union officials highlight 787 power- panel concerns
Japanese aerospace union officials cast new light on problems with the 787’s power distribution panels Wednesday, saying one malfunction last year caused a burned circuit board and disclosing two other previously unpublicized incidents. Power panel faults, while unrelated to the battery problems that have grounded the 787 since mid-January, are another nagging issue with the plane’s innovative electrical system.
Bloomberg: Boeing Said to Boost 787 Battery Tests As Carmakers Aid
Boeing Co. (BA)’s supplier of lithium-ion batteries for its 787s tightened quality checks after the planemaker sought advice from other companies that also use the technology, said five people with knowledge of the matter. Boeing tapped Ford Motor Co. (F), General Motors Co. (GM), General Electric Co. (GE), United Technologies (UTX) Corp. and others to provide technological expertise after battery faults grounded the global fleet of Dreamliners since Jan. 16, said the people, declining to be identified as they aren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Pittsburg Post Gazette: ACLU requests documents on police use of military-grade equipment
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday requested documents from police departments across the country in what leaders described as an effort to learn when American police are using federally subsidized, military-grade equipment generally used in a war zone. The group sent 255 requests in 23 states asking for data on SWAT team call-outs and use, if any, of GPS tracking devices, drones and select other equipment.
Charlotte Observer: McCrory signs bill blocking Medicaid expansion
Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation Wednesday that rejects major components of the federal health care law, denying about 500,000 low-income people health care coverage under an expanded Medicaid program. The measure also prevents North Carolina from establishing a state-sponsored marketplace for health insurance, giving the control to the federal government, which will begin selling policies on the exchange in October.
Detroit Free Press: Drones in the sky might have their eyes on you
Perhaps best known for their role in military operations overseas, an increasing number of drones are taking to U.S. skies. Most are much smaller and far less sophisticated than the Predator drones used by the U.S. military.
Denver Post: Colorado gun bills: Dems need 18 votes or measures are doomed
At least three of the Democrats' signature gun bills are in danger of dying when they are debated on the Senate floor Friday. It comes down to simple math: 20 – 3 = Fail. Democrats have a 20-15 majority over Republicans and know they can't afford to lose more than two members on any bill. The dynamic has led to an intensive lobbying effort.
CNN: U.N. demands Syrian rebels release peacekeepers
Tension brewed Wednesday between the United Nations and Syrian rebels after about 30 rebels detained 21 U.N. peacekeepers and refused to let them go. The U.N., in turn, is demanding they be released. The rebels contend that the peacekeepers entered a Syrian village near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, an area where peacekeepers should not be and where intense fighting has been raging for days between rebels and government forces.
CNN: Venezuelans line streets for Chavez procession
As the political ramifications of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death remained uncertain, his followers demonstrated Wednesday in plazas nationwide to show they support a continuation of his policies. "Take my life, Lord, but don't take that of the president!" wailed an older woman who was among a group of mourners in Bolivar Square in Sabaneta in BarinasState, Chavez's birthplace in the country's northwest. "Without him, we are left with nothing. He's the only president who has helped us."
CNN: Kenyan presidential contender's camp says vote 'doctored'
The running mate of one of Kenya's two frontrunners in the presidential election said Thursday that the vote tallying should stop because it is '"doctored" and lacks integrity. A day before the announcement, election officials had said the new electronic voting system broke down, snarling the process and forcing the tallying to be done manually. The running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, described the transmission system as a failure. He said his Cord Coalition has evidence the vote is doctored, and his coalition is looking at other options, including a court injunction.
CNN: Electors to meet and mingle over coffee before start of conclave
The last cardinals summoned to choose the next pope are expected to arrive at the Vatican on Thursday, but the conclave will not begin immediately. With Easter around the corner, many inside and outside the Catholic Church would like to see a new pontiff to lead ceremonies. Watch for the smoke: How is a new pope elected? With all the electors in Rome, the conclave could begin at their discretion. But they will not likely rush into it. Instead, they will take time to prepare - and get reacquainted. The cardinals will gather for two meetings Thursday at respectively 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. ET).
Bloomberg: Napolitano Girds for Battle to Resolve Italy Election Impasse
President Giorgio Napolitano, a former communist resistance fighter who negotiated Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation, is preparing his final political battle as he seeks to steer Italy out of its latest government crisis before his term expires in May. Napolitano, 87, is charged with resolving the political logjam caused by elections last month that produced a hung parliament. To avoid a new vote, he can try to forge a national- unity government, accept an administration without a majority or appoint a non-politician to head a so-called technical government, similar to that of Prime Minister Mario Monti.
WSJ: Cameron to Reaffirm Austerity Plan
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will pledge to stick to his government's austerity drive, but note that the challenges ahead are huge and recent signs of progress are just the beginning of a long road to recovery. According to extracts of a speech to be delivered on Thursday, the prime minister will say, "The path ahead is tough but be in no doubt, the decisions we make now will set the course of our economic future for years to come. And while some would falter and plunge us back into the abyss, we will stick to the course."
ALSO SEE: CNNMoney: U.K. pay falls fastest in developed world
CNN: Bolshoi Ballet 'villain' arrested in director's acid attack
Ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, often cast as the villain in Bolshoi Ballet productions, is now the lead defendant in a plot worthy of a Tchaikovsky score. The 29-year-old allegedly choreographed an attack intended to blind Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin, the man who put him in the roles of Ivan the Terrible and SwanLake's evil genius.
BBC: Gorbachev denounces 'attack on Russia citizens' rights'
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has denounced new laws passed in Russia as an "attack on citizens' rights". In an interview with the BBC, he called on President Vladimir Putin "not to be afraid of his own people". Mr Gorbachev also criticised Mr Putin's inner circle, saying it was full of "thieves and corrupt officials". The laws include fines for organising unsanctioned protests, stiffer libel penalties, a wider definition of treason and restrictions on websites.
WSJ: Nikkei Sets Fresh 2013 High
Japanese stocks touched a fresh 2013 high on Thursday, while other Asian markets were cautious ahead of economic data from China and the U.S. In most markets in Asia, trading was cautious ahead of important data releases from the world's two largest economies. On Friday, the U.S. will announce nonfarm payrolls employment figures. On the same day, China will announce its trade data for February, which will be followed by inflation and industrial numbers over the weekend.
WSJ: EU Fines Microsoft $732 Million
The European Union's competition watchdog hit Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.92% with a €561 million ($732.2 million) fine for breaking its promise to offer millions of users of its Windows operating system a choice of rival Web browsers. The European Commission said the Redmond, Wash., software maker is the first company to break a voluntary agreement with regulators, which would have allowed at least 15 million consumers to pick alternatives to its Internet Explorer browser. The penalty was the latest episode in over a decade of wrangling between the EU
Bloomberg: JPMorgan Is Hiring Selectively in China on Demand for Offerings
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is hiring “selectively” in China as the Wall Street bank sees a resurgence in demand from companies to sell bonds and shares in the nation, its Chinese investment banking unit head said.
“We are building business across the board, not only in investment banking, but also in corporate banking, institutional investors services, treasury services and commodities,” Fang Fang, 46, said in an interview in Beijing yesterday. “We are seeing some very interesting talents.”
CNBC: Facebook Eyes New Changes
On Thursday, the company is expected to unveil big changes to its homepage feed, likely making it both more visual and content specific to users. The retooling comes barely a month after it unveiled Graph Search, a refined search feature that users are still grappling to understand.