CNN: Georgia town mulls mandatory gun ownership
A small Georgia town may soon require every household to own a firearm - a law that, if passed, would make it the second town in the state to mandate gun ownership. City council members in Nelson, a town of 1,300 people north of Atlanta, unanimously approved the proposal at a meeting this week. Citizens now have a chance to review the proposal before the council takes it up again in April.
CNN: Global warming is epic, long-term study says
Global warming has propelled Earth's climate from one of its coldest decades since the last ice age to one of its hottest - in just one century. A heat spike like this has never happened before, at least not in the last 11,300 years, said climatologist Shaun Marcott, who worked on a new study on global temperatures going back that far.
CNN: NYC teen pregnancy prevention campaign comes under fire
Planned Parenthood of New York City blasted the city's new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Campaign on Thursday, saying it won't deter teen pregnancy and inappropriately shames and stigmatizes its target audience. …The New York City Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services announced the $400,000 initiative, which features pictures of babies delivering messages to their hypothetical parents such as "Honestly, mom... chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?" The small print adds that 90% of teen parents don't marry each other.
USA Today: N.C.'s immigrant driver's license plan sparks protests
A North Carolina plan to issue specially marked driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants granted "deferred status" by the Obama administration is stirring controversy and protests. North Carolina was one of five states — along with Michigan, Iowa, Arizona and Nebraska — that initially said they would not issue licenses to young undocumented immigrants who are part of the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Announced last June, the program could allow up to 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the USA as children to receive two-year deferments on any deportation proceedings.
USA Today: Four more states get federal nod for health exchanges
Michigan, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Iowa are the final four states to receive conditional federal approval to run state partnership health insurance exchanges under the 2010 health care law, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday. A partnership exchange allows the states to take more time before operating the exchanges fully on their own.
NYT: Post Office Buildings With Character, and Maybe a Sale Price
The lines are often long inside the Art Deco post office here under the palm trees. But few people complain these days when they visit that New Deal-era building. They are glad to get their mail, send off a package and maybe chat a bit while they still can. In December, the government said it planned to sell it. …The Santa Monica post office, with its distinctive PWA Moderne style, is one of about 200 post offices around the country, dozens of them architecturally distinctive buildings, that the Postal Service has indicated it may choose to sell in coming years because of its financial problems.
NYT: Students Initiate Inquiry Into Harassment Reports
The federal government has begun an investigation into claims that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill routinely botched sexual assault and harassment complaints and mistreated victims — the latest in a series of similar allegations against high-profile colleges and universities. In January, a group that includes current and former students and a former administrator filed a detailed complaint with the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, after interviewing what the authors say were hundreds of victims, many of whose cases they contend were mishandled.
LA Times: Camp ranger seeks entire $1.2-million reward for Dorner capture
A camp ranger carjacked by Christopher Dorner and who called 911 is seeking the entire $1.2-million reward offered for the now-deceased ex-L.A. police officer who killed four people before taking his own life in a Big Bear-area cabin. Through a law firm, Rick Heltebrake has filed a claim to collect the reward offered by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and funded by various entities.
Reuters: U.S. warns health officials to be alert for deadly new virus
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday warned state and local health officials about potential infections from a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has now sickened 14 people and killed 8. Most of the infections have occurred in the Middle East, but a new analysis of three confirmed infections in Britain suggests the virus can pass from person to person rather than from animal to humans, the CDC said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report on Thursday.
CNN: No 'chest beating' on Iran, but Obama to issue challenge, sources say
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he will not engage in any "chest beating" over Iran's nuclear program, but plans to issue a "clear and direct" challenge to Tehran during his upcoming Middle East trip, according to sources familiar with his comments. Obama said at a White House meeting with Jewish American leaders that he will still work toward a diplomatic resolution with Iran over its nuclear program, but repeated that no options are off the table, including military ones, one of the sources said.
The Hill: Obama sets end-of-July goal for bipartisan agreement on deficit
President Obama wants to complete a grand bargain to reduce the deficit by the end of July, an aggressive timeline coinciding with the expiration of the nation’s debt limit. Obama told a small group of Republican senators who had dinner with him Wednesday evening that a deficit-reduction deal needs to happen in the next four to five months, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.
NYT: Syria Opposition Leaders Delay Trip to Washington
Leaders of the Syrian opposition have put off a visit to Washington for a series of high-profile meetings, including an expected stop at the White House, administration officials said Thursday, underscoring the challenge the United States faces in cultivating a still-evolving political movement. The Obama administration had invited Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian Opposition Council, and Gen. Salim Idriss, the leader of the opposition’s military wing, to make the trip this week, but Mr. Khatib told Secretary of State John Kerry last week at a conference in Rome on the Syria crisis that this was not a good time to visit. No date has been set, but some American officials are hoping the visit might be possible in April.
CNN: Clinton urges Supreme Court to overturn DOMA
Former President Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996, is now calling on the Supreme Court to rule the same law unconstitutional. The law, which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman, denies federal benefits to same-sex couples in the nine states where same-sex couples can now legally wed. "On March 27, DOMA will come before the Supreme Court and the justices must decide whether it is consistent with the principles of a nation that honors freedom, equality and justice above all, and is therefore constitutional," Clinton wrote in an op-ed published online Thursday night by The Washington Post.
READ THE OP-ED: WaPo: It’s time to overturn DOMA
NYT: Leader of Vote Count in Kenya Faces U.S. With Tough Choices
He has been charged with heinous crimes, accused of using a vast fortune to bankroll death squads that slaughtered women and children. His running mate also faces charges of crimes against humanity, and as Kenya’s election drew closer, the Obama administration’s top official for Africa issued a thinly veiled warning during a conference call about the vote, saying that Kenyans are, of course, free to pick their own leaders but that “choices have consequences.” But when the ballot counting began this week, Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, surged ahead in the race for president and stayed out front as the margin narrowed early on Friday. Soon, the Obama administration and its allies could face a tough choice, made even more complicated by the appearance of taking sides against a candidate who may very well win.
CNNMoney: Paul Ryan's balanced budget quest
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will release the latest version of his budget proposal on Tuesday. The 2014 plan, he promises, will balance the federal budget in 10 years. Is that possible?
WaPo: Top Senate Democrat Mikulski unveils bill preventing government shutdown
A top Senate ally of President Barack Obama said Thursday that Democrats won’t push controversial ideas like additional money to implement signature party initiatives as the chamber advances a huge spending measure that would fund day-to-day federal operations through September. Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said there’s a “delicate balance” between supporting Obama administration priorities and going too far as to “sink the bill.”
CNN: Senate panel agrees to new legislation on guns
A bill that would toughen laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases of firearms won approval on Thursday from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration. It is the first proposal of its kind to begin moving through the legislative process since the Connecticut school shootings in December that killed 20 first-graders.
Politico: Rand Paul: ‘Seriously’ weighing 2016 bid
Before Thursday, Rand Paul — tea party firebrand — hadn’t vaulted into the top tier of Republican power players. But all that seemed to change this week. The Kentucky Republican senator showed serious clout by holding a 13-hour filibuster to delay the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s candidate to head the CIA, John Brennan. Paul himself seemed to appreciate that this was an important moment for himself, confidently acknowledging to POLITICO in an interview that he was “seriously” considering running for president in 2016.
BuzzFeed: The First Ad Of The 2016 Iowa Caucus
The conservative Patriot Super PAC has made a $4,300 ad buy in Iowa for a television spot against current Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's potential presidential campaign in three years, according to the the Sunlight Foundation's news blog.
Des Moines Register: Reince Priebus: GOP can't win White House competing just in 8 early states
If the GOP is going to win presidential elections, candidates can’t compete just in Iowa and the other seven early states, the party’s national chairman said during a visit here today. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, doesn’t think Republicans shouldn’t assume that any state will be blue forever.
CNN: Sen. Levin won't seek re-election in 2014
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, 78, announced Thursday that he will not run for a seventh term in 2014. Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called it an "extremely difficult" decision and stated that he'll better serve his Michigan constituents in the next two years of his term by not being distracted by a campaign.
ALSO SEE: Detroit Free-Press: Who will fill Levin's seat? Rare Senate opening to draw frenzied field
WSJ: Electability Seen as Virtue in GOP Senate Bid
Republican prospects for taking the Senate in 2014 brightened Thursday with Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin's announcement that he won't run for re-election. But the man in charge of the GOP's Senate campaign arm says the party has work to do to capitalize on this and other opportunities, mainly by identifying and supporting candidates it sees as electable. "The last election taught us that candidates matter," said Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in outlining his strategy for an election year that aligns well for the GOP effort to take the Senate. "We can't simply take a hands-off approach and say it doesn't matter to us," he said in an interview.
Politico: Lisa Madigan moves toward run in Illinois
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan spoke with several of the nation’s top progressive groups during a visit to Washington D.C. last week, further fueling expectations that the popular Democrat will run for governor in 2014. Madigan is weighing a campaign for the state’s top office even though the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Pat Quinn, has said he plans to seek another term.
Foreign Policy: Inside the Black Box: How the NSA is helping companies fight back against Chinese hackers.
For China, U.S. government secrecy has been a boon. Cyber-warfare directed against American companies is reducing the gross domestic product by as much as $100 billion per year, according to a recent National Intelligence Estimate. Because companies are generally reluctant to admit they've been breached and because the National Security Agency, which works with these companies to assess Chinese cyber techniques, is surrounded by a cocoon of secrecy, China has been able to operate with impunity. That soon will change. In the coming weeks, the NSA, working with a Department of Homeland Security joint task force and the FBI, will release to select American telecommunication companies a wealth of information about China's cyber-espionage program, according to a U.S. intelligence official and two government consultants who work on cyber projects.
CNN: North Korea vows end to nonaggression pacts after U.N. vote
North Korea on Friday responded to tougher sanctions from the U.N. Security Council with another barrage of vitriol, repeating a vow to ditch all nonaggression pacts with the South. A day after the isolated regime in Pyongyang had threatened a possible "preemptive nuclear attack" - something analysts say they think it is unlikely and currently unable to do - its official news agency reeled off a number of agreements with South Korea that it said would no longer apply.
ALSO SEE: CNN: U.S. says U.N. sanctions 'will bite' after North Korea threatens nuclear attack
ALSO SEE: CNN: Is Kim Jong Un more dangerous than his father?
USA Today: China key to enforcing U.N. sanctions on N. Korea
New sanctions on North Korea have as little chance of stopping Pyongyang from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon as previous efforts, unless China gets more serious about enforcing them, nuclear experts and China watchers say. The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to boost sanctions against North Korea for its third nuclear test Feb. 12. Pyongyang threatened a pre-emptive strike on the United States with a nuclear weapon.
CNN: Brennan confirmed for CIA after drone delay
The U.S. Senate approved John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency Thursday after a Republican senator ended his delay of the vote earlier in the day. Brennan was confirmed by a 63-34 vote that crossed party lines. His elevation to the post was widely expected, though he faced vocal opposition from critics like Sen. Rand Paul, who filibustered the vote and demanded more answers from President Barack Obama's administration on when they might use unmanned drones to target Americans suspected of being terrorists.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Five questions: Targeting Americans on U.S. soil
WATCH: VIDEO – Sen. Paul: Happy with answer from Holder: CNN's Dana Bash says Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster exposes a divide in the Republican party over "the war on terror."
WSJ: CIA Head Faces Squeeze Play
The Central Intelligence Agency is disputing a highly critical congressional report on its now-closed detention and interrogation program, officials said, putting its new director on a collision course with Congress. …after surviving the confirmation battle, Mr. Brennan now must confront a brewing showdown between the agency and mostly Democratic lawmakers.
Bloomberg: Kerry Briefed on U.S. Researcher’s Singapore Death, Family Says
A probe into the death of an American research engineer in Singapore was discussed at a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Democrat Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the family of the deceased said. Rick Todd said the family disputed the Singapore police’s conclusion that his son, Shane Todd, had committed suicide and they were seeking further investigation into his death. They raised the issue to Baucus, who this week also met with the Singapore ambassador to the U.S. Kerry “has been fully briefed on what’s going on” in the meeting with Baucus, Todd said in a phone interview from Montana.
Miami Herald: Guantánamo guard shot ‘non-lethal’ round at detainees
A guard in a watchtower shot a “non-lethal” round at detainees inside Guantánamo prison’s $744,000 soccer field for cooperative captives earlier this year in the latest disclosure of simmering unrest at the Pentagon outpost in southeast Cuba. The military on Tuesday acknowledged the Jan. 2 afternoon incident after The Miami Herald began assembling accounts from prison camp lawyers who were until recently prevented from describing their conversations with their captives.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
NY Post: Newark TSA ‘bomb’boozled
An undercover TSA inspector with an improvised explosive device stuffed in his pants got past two security screenings at Newark Airport — including a pat-down — and was cleared to get on board a commercial flight, sources told The Post yesterday. The breach took place Feb. 25, when the Transportation Security Administration’s special operations team — the agency’s version of internal affairs — staged a mock intrusion at the airport.
CNN: Bin Laden's son-in-law to be in New York courtroom
Osama bin Laden's son-in-law is scheduled to be in a New York City courtroom Friday morning to face charges of trying to kill Americans. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who served as an al Qaeda spokesman, was captured and taken to the United States, federal officials announced Thursday.
CNN: Furloughs bite for customs workers
The U.S. government on Thursday notified 60,000 federal workers responsible for securing borders and facilitating trade that they will face furloughs due to government-wide spending cuts. Customs and Border Protection said it expects furloughs and other austerity will cause delays at ports of entry, including international arrivals at airports, and reduce the number of border patrol officers on duty at any one time.
CNN: NTSB report provides details about 787 battery fire but no smoking gun
When firefighters responded to reports of smoke on a new Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" parked at BostonLoganAirport Jan. 7, they found smoke billowing from the cabin floor. A mechanic directed them to the plane's aft electronics bay. There, one firefighter, using a thermal imager to see through thick smoke, saw a "white glow" the size of a softball on the front face of the battery box. Hot liquid oozed out of the rectangular box like "candle wax," he told investigators. When firefighters knocked down the small fire, it would rekindle. One described the battery as sizzling.
ABC News: FBI Monitoring Murder Probe of Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate
The FBI is "monitoring" the investigation into the death of an openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi, opening the door to a possible prosecution as a federal hate crime. The FBI said in a statement that it "initiated contact" with Mississippi police on March 1 "to offer assistance."
San Jose Mercury News: Leon Panetta: Military 'looked the other way' in case of Jeremy Goulet, and Santa Cruz officers paid the price
Some U.S. military officials "looked the other way" rather than aggressively pursuing rape charges against a sexually troubled soldier who ended up killing two Santa Cruz police officers last week, former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the officers' funeral Thursday. Experts say Panetta's unusually strong words - which implied that the military justice system might share some blame for the officers' deaths - highlight the ongoing push to change a military culture that has given rise to an epidemic of sexual assault.
The State: Sheheen endorses temporary expansion of Medicaid
Carolina should give health insurance to more poor people - at least as long as the federal government is willing to pay for it, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen said Thursday. The announcement, made on the campus of the Medical University of South Carolina, focused mostly on Gov. Nikki Haley’s refusal to expand the program under the federal Affordable Care Act, adding to the growing evidence that the Democratic lawmaker plans to challenge the Republican governor to a rematch in 2014.
The Detroit News: Lansing may give Detroit aid if EM gets OK
Republican legislators have long been cold to sending Detroit a taxpayer rescue package, but they are warming to the idea of giving aid to Gov. Rick Snyder's impending emergency manager. The development angers some Detroiters, who note the Detroit City Council and Mayor Dave Bing have repeatedly requested aid to heal the city's structural deficit.
WaPo: Sequester punctures area economy’s government-dependent bubble
Recent American history is strewn with examples of regional economies that grew dangerously dependent on a single industry: Los Angeles with aerospace in the early 1990s, Northern California with tech at the turn of the millennium, Detroit with auto manufacturing and Las Vegas with home building in the mid-2000s. When shocks rattled those industries, those regions bled jobs, and their economies sputtered. None of those areas relied as much on a single source for jobs and growth as the Washington region does on federal government spending today.
Los Angeles Times: Women's group already looking to 2014 election
Although the next statewide election is nearly two years away, some groups are already lining up behind candidates who may face tough political battles. Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) has locked up early endorsements from President Obama and others in an effort to stifle a potential challenge from fellow Democrat Ro Khanna. And Emily’s List, a national group that promotes women to run for political office, announced its backing of Atty. Gen Kamala Harris’ reelection bid and Betty Yee, who is running for state controller.
Sacramento Bee: CA Senate approves $24 million for enforcement of no-gun list
The California Senate Thursday approved sending the state Department of Justice $24 million to beef up a program designed to get guns out of the hands of people who are legally prohibited from having them. "This is a serious and immediate threat to our public safety," said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, one of several authors of the legislation appropriating the funds. Senate Bill 140 is part of a sweeping package of gun control proposals California Democrats introduced in the wake of December's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
Hartford Courant: Gun Makers Run TV Ads Against Legislative Proposals
Executives and employees of three Connecticut gun manufacturers argue in new TV ads for the preservation of jobs at their companies, saying they don't want to leave the state as the result of gun restrictions — including a ban on semiautomatic assault rifles — now being considered by the General Assembly after the Newtown school massacre. "Connecticut's our home. We grew up here. Our first choice would be to stay here. We want to be part of the solution to make Connecticut safer," Dennis Veilleux, president and CEO of Colt's Manufacturing Co. of West Hartford, said in a 30-second ad that started running Thursday.
New Jersey Star-Ledger: Election Day could become two weeks long under N.J. Democrats' bill
Instead of having one day to vote, New Jersey residents would get a two-week window to cast their ballots in person under a measure approved by an Assembly panel today. The voting process would undergo a costly sea change if the bill (A3553) becomes law. Every municipality with more than 30,000 voters would have to set up more polling places, keep them open longer and hire more poll workers.
CNN: Leaders arrive for Chavez funeral
Leaders from all over the world were in Venezuela Friday for the funeral of Hugo Chavez, joining a nation that continued to mourn. One of the heads of state that had arrived early Friday was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who had kind words for Chavez as he came off a plane in the capital, Caracas. … The funeral for Chavez, who died at 58 Tuesday after a battle with cancer, will be held Friday in Caracas. That night Nicolas Maduro, who was the nation's vice president, is scheduled to be sworn in as interim president. Maduro Thursday told the nation, which in a seven-day period of mourning, that Chavez's body will be embalmed. "The body of our leader will be embalmed, and it will ... be surrounded by crystal glass forever, present forever, and always with his people," Nicolas Maduro said on state-run TV.
ALSO SEE: Fox News: Jesse Jackson Sr. to attend Hugo Chavez funeral in Caracas
CNN: Malaysia rejects clan leader's call for cease-fire in Sabah as death toll rises
A Philippine clan leader's bizarre attempt to revive the territorial claims of a defunct Islamic sultanate on the island of Borneo appears to be falling apart. With his followers engaged in a deadly game of cat and mouse with Malaysian security forces in the villages and palm oil plantations of northeastern Borneo, the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu is calling for a cease-fire after the U.N. secretary-general urged an end to the violence.
CNN: Rebel leader: Red Cross can pick up 21 U.N. peacekeepers
Twenty-one U.N. peacekeepers being held by rebels in Syria were taken from an area near the Golan Heights for their own safety due to fighting there, Syrian opposition coalition President Moaz al-Khatib said Thursday. Al-Khatib told CNN's Christiane Amanpour he wants the Red Cross to pick them up.
Jerusalem Post: Bayit Yehudi won't sign agreement including mention of two-state
Coalition talks continued to inch forward on Thursday, with only nine days left until the deadline for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a government. The Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi negotiating teams met in the evening and agreed to some of the terms of their coalition agreement, foremost of which being that any peace treaty will be brought to a national referendum before being ratified by the Knesset.
CNNMoney: Data signals end to Japan's recession
Recession? What recession? Japan's economy performed better in the fourth quarter than previously thought, according to revised government data released Friday that could add fuel to the government's stimulus efforts. The data showed that Japan's economy grew at an annual rate of 0.2% in the final three months of 2012 - much better than the negative 0.4% rate initially reported by Japan's Cabinet Office. The upward revision was not exactly a surprise, as other economic indicators have pointed to stronger growth in recent weeks.
CNN: South African officers charged with murder in man's dragging
Eight South African officers appeared in court Friday to face murder charges in the dragging death of a man handcuffed to the back of a police van last month. The incident was captured on video late last month, sparking outrage in a nation that has seen a series of police brutality incidents recently.
Fortune: Stress test results: Banks could lose nearly half a trillion dollars
In its annual stress test of the nation's largest banks, the Federal Reserve estimated that these firms would lose $462 billion dollars if the economy were to enter another recession similar to the one we just had. Despite those losses, though, the Fed says nearly all of these banks would survive. Of the 18 banks tested by the Fed, only Ally Financial, the former finance arm of General Motors (GM), would sustain big enough losses to potentially put it out of business. All of the other banks would have enough capital to make it through.
ALSO SEE: Financial Times: Goldman exposed to $20bn loss in a crisis
CNBC: European Shares Open Higher; US Jobs Watched
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei jumped to a new four-and-half-year high in Friday's session, thanks to the yen's decline. Revised growth data in Japan showed the economy stabilizing in the fourth quarter of 2012 after two quarters of a shallow recession. Meanwhile, China posted strong trade data which showed exports rising 22 percent in February from a year ago, though imports were weaker than forecast. The U.S. jobs report will be the key risk event on Friday. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics to report that the economy created 160,000 jobs and the unemployment rate steadied at 7.9 percent.
Financial Times: BP warns of higher settlement costs
The cost of BP’s court settlement with businesses and individuals affected by its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be “significantly higher” than $7.7bn, the company warned, as payments being made under the deal come in higher than expected. The company also said the implementation of the settlement by the lawyer administering the claims could result in the final bill increasing even further.