CNNMoney: More than 600,000 tax returns delayed due to filing errors
Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers may have to wait an extra six weeks to receive their tax refunds due to filing errors, the IRS said Tuesday. The IRS said 10%, or more than 600,000, of the 6.6 million returns claiming education credits it has received so far this tax season were improperly filed by tax software providers. As a result, those refunds could be delayed for as long as six weeks.
CNN: Survey asks whether gay and straight Boy Scouts can share tent
The questions go to the heart of the issue, presenting scenarios some may find challenging. The Boy Scouts of America, now considering a change in the group's longstanding policy against allowing openly gay members, has sent out a questionnaire that goes beyond a simple yes or no on the subject. Among them: Is it acceptable for a gay scout and a straight scout to share a tent on an overnight camping trip?
CNN: Fire erupts after tugboat hits natural gas pipeline off Louisiana coast
A tugboat pushing a barge loaded with crude oil struck a natural gas line Tuesday evening off the Louisiana coast, causing an explosion and fire in the Gulf of Mexico, officials said. Deano Bonano, an aide to the council chairman in nearby Jefferson Parish, said two crew members from the tugboat were hospitalized.
NYT: U.S. Will Provide Millions More in Storm Aid for New York
The federal government has agreed to spend an additional $436 million to repair dunes, beaches and sea walls in coastal communities in New York that were hammered by Hurricane Sandy, officials announced on Tuesday.
NYT: Minority Groups and Bottlers Team Up in Battles Over Soda
The decision by a New YorkState judge striking down the Bloomberg administration’s ban on large, sugary drinks this week was not just a high-profile victory for the soda companies in their pitched battle against anti-obesity policies that are aimed at their products. It was also a victory for the industry’s steadfast, if surprising, allies: advocacy groups representing the very communities hit hardest by the obesity epidemic. Dozens of Hispanic and African-American civil rights groups, health advocacy organizations and business associations have joined the beverage industry in opposing soda regulation around the country in recent years, arguing that such measures — perhaps the greatest regulatory threat the soft-drink industry has ever faced — are discriminatory, paternalistic or ineffective.
ALSO SEE: BuzzFeed: How Big Gulps Are Exactly Like Cigarettes; Two industries, the same tactic: Money to minority groups and politicians.
CNN: Mississippi governor reviews 'Anti-Bloomberg' bill
Super size? Yes, please, say Mississippi lawmakers. The same day a judge blocked a ban on the sale of large, sugary drinks in New York City, senators in Mississippi approved, by a 50-1 vote, a bill that would prevent similar efforts in their state. …If the governor signs it into law, the legislation would prevent Mississippi counties, districts and towns from banning food based on its nutritional information. It would also stop them from enacting rules that would cap portion sizes.
NYT: Wary of Attack With Smallpox, U.S. Buys Up a Costly Drug
The United States government is buying enough of a new smallpox medicine to treat two million people in the event of a bioterrorism attack, and took delivery of the first shipment of it last week. But the purchase has set off a debate about the lucrative contract, with some experts saying the government is buying too much of the drug at too high a price.
USA Today: Poll: Protection is main reason for owning guns
American gun owners are increasingly keeping firearms for protection instead of for hunting and sporting purposes, according to a new poll by the PewResearchCenter. Among gun owners surveyed, 48% said they own them for protection, while 32% said they own a firearm mainly for hunting purposes. That's a large shift from 1999 when 26% of those surveyed said they owned a gun for protection, while 49% said they used it mainly for hunting, according to an August 1999 poll conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post.
Bloomberg: Tightening Illinois Gun Law Conceals Divide on Pistol Use
Illinois has less than three months to comply with a federal court order requiring the nation’s fifth most-populous state to enact what is already law in the other 49 - allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons. Lawmakers must balance the intent of a Dec. 11 ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago with the desire to protect the public. The ensuing debate over just who should be armed and where in the home state of President Barack Obama has exposed political and cultural divisions that cross party lines.
Reuters: Obama to meet CEOs on cyber security
President Barack Obama will sit down on Wednesday with corporate leaders to discuss efforts to improve cyber security in private industries amid rising concern about hacking attacks emanating from China. The White House said that in the meeting, to take place in the Situation Room, Obama would discuss efforts to address the cyber threat and solicit the CEOs' input on how the government and private sector can best work together to improve the country's cyber security.
WaPo: Biden and Holder to announce new domestic violence initiative, award grants
Vice President Biden and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday will unveil a new domestic violence initiative and award $2.3 million in grant money as part of a new effort to reduce gun violence, according to a White House official. At an event in Rockville, Biden and Holder plan to introduce the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative — a Justice Department program modeled after state initiatives in Maryland and Massachusetts and intended to help municipalities monitor high-risk offenders and identify potential victims.
WATCH: At 10:00AM ET, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder deliver remarks on reducing domestic violence homicides – LIVE on CNN
CNN: Obama dismisses balancing budget for 'sake of balance'
The push in Washington over reducing the federal deficit and producing a balanced budget shouldn't be at the expense of vulnerable Americans, President Barack Obama said in an interview on Tuesday. His comments came the same day Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, unveiled a plan that aims to balance the budget in 10 years. Obama said his own plan, which the White House said should be out the week of April 8, would not include that objective. "My goal is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance," Obama told ABC News.
ALSO SEE: CNN: White House charm offensive does not extend to Ryan budget
Politico: Obama's risky Hill strategy
President Barack Obama is beginning to carve out his role in upcoming talks on the deficit: He’ll let Congress take the lead. Obama plans to take direction from Congress — and right now, the preferred path of influential lawmakers is to follow the regular budget process, which means any deal must wend its way through committees and onto the floor in both chambers. The tactic is a risky one for the president.
ALSO SEE: Politico: Missed chance: Obama’s tax problem
ABC News: Drops in Approval & Trust on the Economy End Obama’s Post-Election Honeymoon
The post-election party is over for Barack Obama, with the president slipping in overall approval and relinquishing his advantage over congressional Republicans in trust to handle the economy. But it looks not so much like a gain for the GOP as a sequester-inspired pox on both houses. The automatic budget cuts now in effect are unpopular, if not overwhelmingly so – Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove by 53-39 percent.
CNN: Parties still talking past each other on taxes and spending
Despite a ballyhooed charm offensive by President Barack Obama, political leaders continued talking past each other on Tuesday in proposing partisan ideas on taxes and spending that have zero chance of winning congressional approval. Obama met with Senate Democrats in the first of three visits to Capitol Hill this week for face time with legislators from both parties. The rare personal appearances by the president, a former senator, follow his newly unveiled outreach efforts that included dinner with Senate Republicans and lunch with two influential House members last week, as well as phone calls to various legislators from both parties.
WATCH: VIDEO – Economic policy wonk Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled his budget plan, emphasizing spending AND and tax cuts. Dana Bash reports.
WSJ: Ryan Sees Caps on Defense Spending
Rep. Paul Ryan proposed a Republican budget blueprint Tuesday that included caps on defense spending, a shift for his party that could provide a point of compromise with Democrats. Rep. Paul Ryan talks about GOP House budget proposal. Also, reactions to the court striking down Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban, drilling on the decline on federal lands under President Obama, and is this the start of a second Korean war? The House Budget Committee chairman's proposal marks a significant reversal for the GOP since just last fall.
ALSO SEE: CNNMoney: What's in Paul Ryan's budget
Politico: Patty Murray budget: $1 trillion in new revenue
Sen. Patty Murray’s new budget plan calls for raising tax revenues by nearly $1 trillion while cutting spending by roughly the same amount over the next decade, according to people familiar with the proposal. The Budget Committee chairwoman briefed fellow Democratic senators over the new proposal in a closed-door lunch Tuesday that President Barack Obama also attended. Committee deliberations will begin Wednesday, and the panel expects to vote on the plan Thursday before floor debate next week. The plan is a non-binding blueprint that does not carry the force of the law, but it allows each party to lay out its vision and priorities for the coming fiscal year.
CNN: House GOP aide: thumbs up on Senate spending plan
House Republicans are inclined to support a new Senate plan to keep the government funded through the end of September, a senior House GOP aide told CNN Tuesday. The GOP-run House will likely back the plan if senators don't change it because the measure keeps an overall total of $85 billion in forced spending cuts and doesn't include new funds for either President Barack Obama's health care reform or the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law, the aide said. It also keeps federal pay freezes intact and maintains tight congressional control over agency budgets, two priorities for conservatives.
The Hill: McCain, Coburn stall Senate spending bill
Two Republican senators are holding up work on a $984 billion bill that would prevent a government shutdown and keep agencies funded through the end of the fiscal year.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Tuesday blocked the Senate from proceeding to debate on the bill, arguing they were not given enough time to read the 500-page legislation. The two also said they had already found “pork barrel spending” in the measure, negotiated by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).
CNN: Senate panel approves expanded background checks on gun sales
A Senate committee approved legislation on Tuesday that would expand background checks covering all U.S. firearms sales, part of a federal gun-control push prompted by December's school massacre in Connecticut. The Judiciary Committee decision by a party-line vote of 10-8 cleared the way for the Democratic-crafted background check measure to be debated and put to a vote in the full Senate. Less clear is the fate of a proposed ban on military assault rifles proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. The panel put off a vote on that plan, but is expected to revisit it as early as Thursday.
ALSO SEE: NBC: Sources: NRA won't oppose background check deal – if Democrats cede tough records fight
Roll Call: Women Changing the Face of Senate Armed Services Panel
The faces of U.S. soldiers in combat are beginning to change, but women aren’t just newly permitted on the front lines of the battlefield. They’re also at the forefront of the policy debate, with three of six Senate Armed Services subcommittee gavels now held by women. Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Kay Hagan of North Carolina have taken the helms of the subcommittees on Personnel, Readiness and Management Support, and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, respectively.
HuffPo: How Bill Clinton Inspired The 47 Percent Filmmaker
Bill Clinton won the presidential election for Barack Obama. But it wasn't his masterful Democratic National Convention speech or the advice he offered the president's reelection campaign. Clinton, it turns out, inspired the man who filmed Mitt Romney's infamous and game-changing 47 percent comments. HuffPost has agreed to withhold the name of the surreptitious filmmaker until he breaks his silence on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" Wednesday evening, followed by an appearance on HuffPost Live Thursday morning. In interviews over the last several months, he laid out his thinking before and after Romney's speech.
BuzzFeed: Martin O'Malley Makes Risky 2016 Bet With Maryland Gas Tax
As he gears up for a likely presidential run in 2016, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is testing a risky new political calculus for the post-Obama era: Win votes by raising taxes.
O'Malley, who is thought to be an all but certain player in the next race for the White House, surprised some observers when he proposed last week to raise taxes on gasoline statewide as part of a transportation plan designed to repair failing infrastructure and reduce commute time. It's the type of legislation an aspiring presidential candidate wouldn't have touched a few years ago — something even O'Malley alluded to last week, when he told The Baltimore Sun that there isn't "a revenue more unpopular than the gas tax."
CNN: Audio of Bradley Manning, accused in WikiLeaks scandal, posted on Internet
Audio of Pfc. Bradley Manning telling a military court that he provided classified information to the WikiLeaks website has been posted on the Internet by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. "This marks the first time the American public has heard the actual voice of Manning," the group said in a statement Monday. Access to the military court proceedings for Manning is limited, and observers are not allowed to use recording devices. The foundation did not say how it obtained the audio but complained that the proceedings should be available to the public.
USA Today: Senator, parents press Singapore in son's death
The parents of an American engineer killed under mysterious circumstances in Singapore say U.S. national security interests require that the FBI have full oversight and access to evidence in the case. "There are extreme implications to our country. That's why we want the FBI involved," said Mary Todd, whose son Shane was found hanging from his bathroom door two days after he quit working for a company that he suspected of sharing sensitive technology with China.
Boston Globe: Chief of US Pacific forces calls climate biggest worry
America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea, escalating tensions between China and Japan, and a spike in computer attacks traced to China provides an unexpected answer when asked what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region: climate change. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’
CNN: Official: Cyberattacks, N. Korea, jihadist groups top U.S. threats
Cyberattacks pose more of a threat to the United States than a land-based attack by a terrorist group, while North Korea's development of a nuclear weapons program poses a "serious threat," the director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday. The warning by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came in his annual report to Congress on the threats facing the United States.
WATCH: VIDEO – A dramatic rise in attacks on the U.S. from international governments has the intelligence community worried. CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
ALSO SEE: NYT: Security Leader Says U.S. Would Retaliate Against Cyberattacks
WaPo: Iran, al-Qaeda relationship is showing cracks, U.S. officials and analysts say
Iran’s expulsion of a senior al-Qaeda official appears to signal a crackdown on the terrorist group that has long been granted safe haven within its borders, U.S. officials say. Iran’s ouster of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a former al-Qaeda spokesman and the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, marked at least the third time in the past year that a prominent al-Qaeda figure has left the country after living for years in a limbo between houseguest and home detainee.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: Officials investigate purported web posting of private info on first lady, others
The Secret Service and FBI are investigating how personal information purported to relate to first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former first lady Hillary Clinton ended up on an Internet site, officials said Tuesday. It was not clear how much of the information was accurate and whether it was obtained through hacking or by scrutinizing public records.
WATCH: VIDEO – Brian Todd reports on the investigations into politicians' and celebrities' financial information being posted online.
CNN: FAA approves proposal for fixing Dreamliner battery woes
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a proposal for remedying battery system problems suspected of triggering fires that forced the grounding of Boeing's heralded 787 Dreamliner. But the company must still demonstrate its approach will ensure safety before those planes can fly again, the FAA said on Tuesday in signing off on a certification plan by the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer to redesign the plane's lithium-ion battery system.
CNN: TSA partners are opposing plan to allow some small knives on planes
When the nation's top transportation security official announced a plan to allow some small knives on planes, he spoke to a group receptive to his message: international aviation folks that already allow knives. It may be the only receptive group. In the week since Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole made his announcement, a parade of groups has stepped up to voice opposition or concern.
ALSO SEE: FOX: Rep to TSA: No Knives on Planes
CNN: Report: Employees in Justice Dept. section polarized
Staffers in the voting rights section of the U.S. Justice Department - during both the Bush and Obama administrations - took political potshots at each other and often displayed a lack of professionalism, according to a report issued Tuesday. The department's inspector general found camps within that office battled over priorities and cases for most of the past decade.
WSJ: Big Sugar Is Set for a Sweet Bailout
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering buying 400,000 tons of sugar—enough for 142 billion Hershey's HSY +0.08% Kisses—to stave off a wave of defaults by sugar processors that borrowed $862 million under a government price-support program. The action aims to prop up tumbling U.S. sugar prices, which have fallen 18% since the USDA made the nine-month operations-financing loans beginning in October. The purchases could leave the price-support program with an $80 million loss, its biggest in 13 years, said Barbara Fecso, an economist at the USDA, in an interview.
WSJ: Tweets Need to Include Disclosures, FTC Says
Short-form ads on Twitter and Facebook need to include some fine print, federal regulators said Tuesday. Whether it is including the average effectiveness of a weight-loss shake or noting that a celebrity was paid to push a product in a Twitter post, marketing company need to apply the same standards to online ads as they long have to older media, according to guidelines released Tuesday by the Federal Trade Commission. That means making room for full disclosure even in a 140-character tweet on Twitter.
Contra Costa Times: Drug companies pay California doctors millions for speaking, meals and research
Along with his thriving Redwood City pain management and rehabilitation practice, Dr. Moshe Lewis is one of hundreds of California doctors who banks on another lucrative client: pharmaceutical companies. Since 2009, the Bay Area physician has received more than $224,000 from five drugmakers for speaking, consulting, travel and meals. And he's in good company in the GoldenState: Big Pharma paid doctors, researchers and institutions here more than $241 million from 2009 to 2012. Critics say the payments raise conflict of interest questions: Are doctors giving you a drug because you need it, or because they're getting paid?
WaPo: Residents of violence-plagued D.C. neighborhood feel largely ignored in gun control debate
The gun debate taking place on Capitol Hill has been filled with measured questions on the meaning of the Second Amendment and remembrances of innocents lost in suburban mass shootings. It is a conversation largely swept clean of the sort of gritty trauma that too often marks the streets of Capitol View in Northeast Washington.
Hartford Courant: Sense Of Urgency Grows As Leaders Negotiate Gun Control But Don't Yet Agree
Sticking points remained Tuesday as legislative leaders met in negotiations for the fourth time without agreeing on a gun-control bill in response to the Newtown school massacre — but House GOP leader Larry Cafero said lawmakers need to act quickly, one way or another. Asked before Wednesday's two-hour meeting whether the leaders have a date in mind to "fish or cut bait," Cafero said, "There isn't one officially, but I think we're all sensing — or at least I'll speak for myself — that we're getting close to that time. "We have to take care of this issue one way or the other, and we have to do a myriad of other very serious issues — which unfortunately is not getting done because we're still focused on this issue," Cafero said. "We're coming to the point where we have to do something quickly."
Burlington Free Press: Leahy: F-35 weapons program is 'too costly to proceed'
Sen. Patrick Leahy wrote Tuesday to a constituent that the F-35 program is “poorly managed” and “a textbook example of how not to buy military equipment.” Leahy’s letter reflects closer scrutiny of the F-35 in budget-conscious Washington because of its rapidly increasing cost. A March 11 update from the Government Accountability Office, which monitors spending of public money for Congress, said the program will cost “$12.5 billion a year through 2037.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune: Jindal's budget criticized by lawmakers for sweeping away state's dedicated funds
Louisiana lawmakers hammered Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget staff Tuesday over plans to sweep money from dozens of funds dedicated to specific uses to plug $464.5 million into the state budget. Conservative lawmakers decried the move as a "shell game," and the pre-session skirmish appeared to set the stage for a contentious and hard-fought struggle between that group and Jindal even before the opening of the legislative session.
Denver Post: Colorado House passes civil unions, but fans note marriage is equality
A bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions is on its way to the governor for his signature, but gay-rights activists say they won't stop until they get true equality, which is marriage. The Colorado House on Tuesday passed the bill 39-26 despite protests from Republicans that the bill faces legal challenges because it doesn't offer religious exemptions.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Same-sex marriage bill advances in Legislature
The bonds of marriage divided the Minnesotans who came to the Legislature Tuesday. For one day, the House and Senate invited the public to share their hopes and fears over the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota. They came. They cried. They shared deeply personal stories. And both sides spoke again and again about the value they see in the institution of marriage. …In the end, both the House and Senate passed the marriage equality bill out of committee, moving it one step closer to a vote by the full Legislature. Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign the bill if it passes the Legislature, but the Democratic leadership in both houses say the budget will be their priority in the coming weeks, before they even consider bringing up the marriage bills.
Tampa Bay Times: Lawmakers want drones grounded in Florida
The backlash against the use of unmanned drones has found its way to Florida, where lawmakers are fast-tracking legislation to limit their use by local law enforcement. "It's fine to kill terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan with drones," said sponsor Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. "But I don't think we should use them to monitor the activities of law-abiding Floridians."
Boston Herald: ‘No corned beef’ for GOP Senate hopefuls
The St. Patrick’s Day schmoozefest in South Boston will be missing something notable this Sunday — not bad jokes or warm beer, but all three Republican U.S. Senate candidates, who say they’ve been snubbed by the annual gathering of political power brokers. Both Democratic Senate candidates, U.S. Reps. Stephen F. Lynch and Edward J. Markey, were invited and given speaking roles at the roast, which is traditionally a chance for candidates to get noticed by a statewide viewing audience.
The State: S.C. House rejects Medicaid expansion
House lawmakers refused to expand Medicaid in South Carolina on Tuesday after hours of debate that echoed the conflicts of class, race and religion. For nearly five hours on Tuesday, Democrats quoted statistics and scripture in arguing for an amendment to the state’s $22.7 billion spending plan that would make 500,000 more poor people eligible for taxpayer-funded health insurance. They even proposed an amendment that would require any lawmaker voting against the expansion to forfeit their own taxpayer-funded health insurance.
Detroit Free Press: Kwame Kilpatrick locked up but still on hook for restitution to Detroit
He lost his freedom, good food and even Twitter. But one thing former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is stuck with - even locked up for public corruption - is his $854,062.60 debt to the city. …Kilpatrick and longtime contractor friend Bobby Ferguson were found guilty of racketeering, bribery and extortion, ending a nearly six-month, highly publicized trial. His father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was found guilty of a tax violation and remains free until sentencing.
Financial Times: Turkey emerges as true Iraq war victor
The Americans won the war, the Iranians won the peace and the Turks won the contracts. Turkey, which blocked the deployment of US troops through its territory during the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, is emerging 10 years on as one of the prime beneficiaries of the battle for the Iraqi market.
Haaretz: Netanyahu delays formation of new Israeli cabinet as final sticking points remain
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to delay presenting his new Israeli coalition to the Knesset on Wednesday as he had hoped, due to unresolved disputes between Likud and Yesh Atid over which party will control the Education Ministry, as well as a disagreement over who will serve as chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee. Senior Likud officials said Tuesday that coalition talks are not on the verge of a crisis and that a final agreement could be wrapped up shortly.
CNN: Palestinian reported killed by Israeli troops in West Bank
Israeli troops shot dead a 22-year-old Palestinian activist during clashes Tuesday night around a West Bank refugee camp, Palestinian medical officials said. An Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman confirmed its troops "fired several shots" at Palestinians throwing objects at them inside the camp, saying they did so because they felt "endangered for their lives."
CNN: Cardinals convene for 2nd day of conclave to pick next pope
All eyes will be peeled on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday, as the Roman Catholic cardinals tasked with electing the next pope convene for a second day of the conclave. The 115 voting eligible church leaders file into the chapel chamber, renowned for its ceiling fresco painted by Renaissance master Michelangelo, at 10:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET).
ALSO SEE: CNN: Conclave tick tock: How cardinals' day will unfold
CNN: The cost of war: 2 million Syrian youths afflicted by trauma, disease, malnutrition
The horrors of war are best described by the children's drawings. In one, a child illustrates a helicopter and warplane firing over a tank launching a piece of artillery. Underneath, men fire guns at each other as a stick figure lies on the ground nearby. The Syrian civil war has taken a massive toll on the most innocent of victims both psychologically and physically - the children. More than 2 million children have been afflicted by trauma, malnutrition or disease, the aid group Save the Children said in a report Wednesday.
ALSO SEE: CNN: U.N.: Both Syrian rebels and government forces guilty
NYT: Syria Military Shows Strain in a War It Wasn’t Built to Fight
The Syrian military’s ability to fight rebels and hold territory has steadily eroded, forcing it to cede the job of running many checkpoints to paramilitary groups, give up a provincial city last week without much of a fight and even enlist the top state-appointed Muslim cleric as a recruiter. Though the government forces remain better armed and organized than the rebels, two years of fighting have pushed the military to continue to scale back its ambitions and rethink its tactics.
The Guardian: Britain to keep options open on arms for Syrian rebels
Britain is to keep open its options on providing arms to Syrian rebels after David Cameron indicated that Britain would be prepared to bypass the EU arms embargo if other member states refuse to lift the measure in May. The prime minister, who last week approved the provision of armoured four-wheel drive vehicles and body armour for Syrian opposition leader as part of a £9.4m package of non-lethal equipment, warned that inaction could encourage jihadi groups.
CNN: Militants kill 5 in attack on Kashmir police training camp
Militants killed five Indian officers at a police training camp in Indian-controlled Kashmir province on Wednesday, police said. It was the first attack in the city of Srinagar in at least three years, CNN's sister network IBN reported. It comes a month after the execution in India of a militant from Kashmir, who led an attack on the nation's parliament in 2001, killing nine people. Since Mohammed Afzal Guru was executed, his supporters in Srinagar have demanded the return of his body, protesting with civil disobedience.
CNN: Scientists will study possible Chavez poisoning, Venezuelan leader says
The dark claim on the day Hugo Chavez died took many by surprise. Someone, Venezuelan government officials said, may have deliberately infected him with cancer. Critics dismissed the accusation - first floated by then-Vice President Nicolas Maduro on March 5 - as an eleventh-hour attempt to distract Venezuelans and drum up popular support as leaders prepared to announce Chavez's death.
CNNMoney: Google to pay $7 million for privacy violation
Google on Tuesday agreed to pay a group of states $7 million to settle complaints that its Street View cars violated people's privacy. The settlement with 37 states comes nearly three years after the company admitted to collecting information like passwords and e-mails from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks its cars were passing by. The Internet search giant that it will take steps to make sure the company does not tap into networks again in the future. As part of the settlement, Google has also agreed to destroy the personal data it collected.
Bloomberg: China Leaders Seen Deepening Interest-Rate Flexibility: Economy
China’s new leaders may further loosen interest-rate controls this year while allowing limited changes to one-child and household-registration policies that threaten to restrain growth, a survey of analysts shows. Twelve of 16 analysts expect China to relax or remove the cap on deposit rates or the floor on lending rates, according to a Bloomberg News survey conducted ahead of Xi Jinping’s appointment as president tomorrow. A majority sees at least minor changes to the birth and registration policies.
Financial Times: Spectre of stagflation haunts UK
The prospect of stagflation has returned to the UK as investors bet on a sharp jump in inflation to its highest level in almost five years. Inflation expectations, as measured by the difference between nominal and inflation-linked bond yields, ticked up to near 3.3 per cent on Tuesday, levels not seen since September 2008.
San Francisco Chronicle: Google tablet software forecast to top Apple
Google's software will power more tablet computers than Apple's operating system for the first time this year as smaller, cheaper alternatives to the iPad gain favor with consumers, according to tech researcher IDC. Devices running Google's Android software will climb to 49 percent of the market in 2013, while Apple's share will slip to 46 percent, IDC said Tuesday. Last year, Apple commanded 51 percent, compared with Google's 46 percent.