CNN: Computer outage in South Korea hits broadcasters and bank
South Korean police said Wednesday they are investigating a computer outage that has struck systems at leading television broadcasters and banks, prompting the military to step up its cyber alert level amid concerns about North Korea. One television station, YTN, reported that 500 of its computers had been disabled by the outage. Another, KBS, said that its internal networks had been "paralyzed," but that the problem didn't prevent it from broadcasting live.
CNN: Once-unlikely win for gun control in Colorado
In the biggest fight over firearms since December's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun-control advocates are poised to notch a victory in an unlikely place. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is set to sign measures Wednesday that will require universal background checks for gun sales, restrict the size of ammunition magazines and make buyers pay for their own background checks.
USA Today: Autism numbers rise in latest count
Rates of all forms of autism in the U.S. may be substantially higher than previously estimated, according to a new government report that found that 1 out of every 50 school-age children – roughly one on every school bus – has the condition. That's dramatically higher than the 1 in 88 announced by a different government agency last year.
CNN: Sugary drinks linked to 180,000 deaths worldwide
Sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to more than 180,000 obesity-related deaths worldwide each year, according to new research presented this week at an American Heart Association conference. "This means about one in every 100 deaths from obesity-related diseases is caused by drinking sugary beverages," says study author Gitanjali Singh, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. Among the world's 35 largest countries, Mexico had the highest death rates from sugary drinks, and Bangladesh had the lowest, according to the study. The United States ranked third.
Reuters: Arkansas state Senate sends voter ID bill to governor
The Arkansas state Senate approved a measure on Tuesday to require voters to show photo identification before they can cast a ballot, sending it to Democratic Governor Mike Beebe who has not said whether he would sign it into law.
CNN: Virginia officials appeal for help as dozens of suspicious fires erupt
With each new blaze that erupts in Virginia, the urgency to arrest a "group" of arsonists grows. At least 71 fires have occurred in AccomackCounty since November, the latest reported Monday. And in each case, whoever is responsible slips away into the night, unnoticed.
CNN: Obama makes first trip to Israel as president
For the first time as president, Barack Obama is visiting Israel as concerns about Iran's nuclear progress percolate. The trip is part of his sweep across the Middle East, which will include visits to the West Bank and Jordan. Obama's first stop Wednesday will be a visit to an Iron Dome missile defense launcher in Tel Aviv.
ALSO SEE: Jerusalem Post: Israel awaits the arrival of US President Barack Obama
WATCH: VIDEO – Israeli President Shimon Peres believes Obama would use military force if necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran. CNN's John King reports.
Haaretz: U.S. has pinpoint attack ready on Iran, says Israeli official
A senior Israeli security official who has been clued in on parts of the American plans for possible military action against Iran said: “The Americans are planning for this scenario very seriously.” With U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit here beginning Wednesday, the senior Israeli official said: “Obama’s administration, as opposed to that of his predecessor, George Bush, has prepared a pinpoint military option in the event that the United States decides to attack in the end. The Americans, if they choose, will be able to mount a focused operation on the Iranian nukes without necessarily sparking a comprehensive regional war.”
Reuters: Insight: In heartland, Obama's move against jet loophole hits turbulence
First came the recession, throwing thousands out of work. Then came the drought, choking crops and draining reservoirs. Then came the president, arguing that the private-plane buyers who fuel this city's economy benefit from an unfair tax break. President Barack Obama's proposal to reduce that tax break has won wide support among Democrats who see it as an example of how the U.S. tax code is too generous to the wealthy. But what looks like a loophole in Washington appears much different in this prairie city of 400,000, where leaders of all political stripes worry that Obama's rhetoric is already undermining an industry that accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in the region.
CNN: Senate leader says new weapons ban won't pass
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that a proposed ban on semi-automatic firearms modeled after military assault weapons has no chance of passing the chamber, but he wants to ensure a vote on it will occur. The proposal to update a similar 1994 ban that expired a decade later was one of four measures passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to the Connecticut school massacre in December.
WATCH: VIDEO – Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks to CNN about her assault weapons ban measure being dropped from a Senate gun bill.
Politico: House GOP: More spending cuts for debt ceiling
If hiking the debt ceiling seemed difficult in 2011, it’s even trickier in 2013. They might have appeared to stand down from the last clash over the debt ceiling in January. But don’t be fooled: House Republicans are still planning to push for steep spending cuts or budgetary reforms alongside legislation to allow more borrowing. House Speaker John Boehner’s majority has cut so deep into discretionary spending, they know they cannot go any deeper. So this time, to raise the nation’s debt cap — something GOP leadership estimates is likely to happen in July — they are moving on to tweaking entitlements.
CNN: Release of immigrant detainees was political, House Republicans say
Several House Republicans said Tuesday they believe the February release of more than 2,000 immigration detainees from jail was motivated by politics rather than forced budget cuts. "From this vantage point, it does look like the decision to release detainees was a political determination and not a monetary determination," said Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina. "It appears to me that the release of detainees was part of a sequester campaign that included the fictional firing of teachers, the closing of the White House for student tours, the displacement of meat inspectors and now we're gonna release aggravated felons - some aggravated felons - onto the street." Gowdy was one of several Republicans who harshly criticized the release of 2,228 people from immigration detention during a combative Judiciary Committee hearing with John Morton, the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
CNN: Sanford in GOP runoff, Colbert Busch wins Dem nomination
Former Gov. Mark Sanford finished first in Tuesday's crowded Republican primary for the U.S. House special election in South Carolina, CNN projects. However, Sanford fell well short of the 50% margin needed to avoid a runoff. The former governor will now compete against the next top contender in the primary for the April 2 runoff, though it's unclear who his opponent will be, as a close race has shaped up for second place.
CNN: Paul lays out steps to provide permanent legal status for illegal immigrants
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday waded deeper into an issue fraught with political opportunity and risks: further clarifying his ideas on immigration reform by laying out steps to eventually provide permanent legal status for the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. "I think the conversation needs to start by acknowledging that we aren't going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants," Paul said.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Rand Paul attempts to clarify position on pathway to citizenship
Politico: In Kentucky, prominent Democrats wooing Alison Lundergan Grimes, not Ashley Judd
Democratic heavy hitters — including Bill Clinton — are quietly trying to woo a new candidate to jump into the race to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as actress Ashley Judd is taking steps toward launching a star-studded campaign of her own. With fears growing in some Democratic quarters over Judd’s potential candidacy, some prominent Democrats in the BluegrassState are beginning to set their sights on 34-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state.
Politico: Robert Menendez donor courted President Obama, Harry Reid
Salomon Melgen had a knack for going straight to the top. He posed for pictures with President Barack Obama, flew Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his private jet and sought advice on a port security deal from an ex-CIA agent who helped lead the hunt for Osama bin Laden, POLITICO has learned.
CNN: Santa Fe mayor urges allowing same-sex marriage in New Mexico
The Democratic mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico, announced on Tuesday he is now urging county clerks in the city to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The mayor's action does not carry the force of law, though county clerks could honor his urging. Yet his action raises a controversial question: could he provoke New Mexico into becoming the 10th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage?
Politico: Jack Kingston moves toward Senate run
Republican Rep. Jack Kingston is assembling a campaign team, including a pollster, in anticipation of a bid for the Georgia Senate seat that Saxby Chambliss is leaving open. Kingston, now in his 11th term, signed up the Washington-based polling firm McLaughlin and Associates — which did work for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal — according to a source familiar with his political plans. Kingston is expected to make an official announcement of his decision in mid-April, but he appears to be leaning heavily toward running.
CNN: Game-changer: Syria's 'probability' of using chemical warfare
There is a "high probability" that Syria deployed chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war, but final verification is needed, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee told CNN on Tuesday. "I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used," Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used." Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, struck ominous tones in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" about the possibility that Syria had crossed what President Barack Obama has said was a "red line" that could lead to the United States getting involved militarily in the conflict.
ALSO SEE: CNN: McCain and Graham: Syria reports, if true, mean president's red line has been crossed
WATCH: VIDEO – Rep. Mike Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein both agree chemical weapons were likely used in Syria.
WaPo: Islamic law comes to rebel-held Syria
The evidence was incontrovertible, captured on video and posted on YouTube for all the world to see. During a demonstration against the Syrian regime, Wael Ibrahim, a veteran activist, had tossed aside a banner inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith. And that, decreed the officers of the newly established Sharia Authority set up to administer rebel-held Aleppo, constitutes a crime under Islamic law, punishable in this instance by 10 strokes of a metal pipe. The beating administered last month offered a vivid illustration of the extent to which the Syrian revolution has strayed from its roots as a largely spontaneous uprising against four decades of Assad family rule. After mutating last year into a full-scale war, it is moving toward what appears to be an organized effort to institute Islamic law in areas that have fallen under rebel control.
The Hill: Concerns over North Korea restart debate on East Coast missile shield
North Korea's nuclear saber-rattling has reignited debate on Capitol Hill on the need for a missile defense system on the Eastern Seaboard. The recent round of North Korean nuclear weapons tests, coupled with the aggressive rhetoric coming from Pyongyang, amounted to "a wake up call" on the need for a new missile system in the east, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said Tuesday. “I hope they keep their eyes open,” Ayotte said, emphasizing time was running out for the administration to take action on missile defense.
ALSO SEE: CNN: U.S. flies B-52s over South Korea
Bloomberg: U.S. Main Source of Attacks on China State Websites, Agency Says
The number of Chinese government websites targeted by hackers almost doubled last year to 3,016, with the largest number of attacks coming from the U.S., China’s network security agency said in a report. “Law enforcement agencies should increase punishment of network crime and strictly pursue violators in order to create an effective deterrent,” the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China, or CNCERT, said in the report posted to its website yesterday. So-called back-door viruses infected 52,324 websites in China last year, a 214 percent increase from 2011, according to CNCERT, which is controlled by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Of those infected, 3,016 were government-run websites, an increase of 93 percent, it said.
CNN: Hunger strike expands at Guantanamo
More prisoners have joined a hunger strike at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The number of suspected terrorists involved has risen to 24 as of Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said. There were 14 last week. U.S. military officials deny detainee lives are in danger.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
National Journal: Stop the Presses: Putting Public Documents Online Has Saved Taxpayers
It’s generally taken for granted these days that if something is on paper, it will be online, too. Government documents are increasingly making the jump to digital. From court records to campaign donations to congressional legislation to accountability reports, it’s easier to keep track of what Washington is up to. But digitizing public documents isn’t just a way to monitor elected and appointed officials. It’s also a small way the country can save a bit of money. From a new Government Printing Office report — also available online, of course — we’ve learned that designing official publications primarily for the Web rather than print has saved the country around $1 million a year since the GPO started doing it in 1995.
NYT: U.S. Said to Look Into Microsoft Bribery Allegations
Federal authorities are examining Microsoft’s involvement with companies and individuals that are accused of paying bribes to overseas government officials in exchange for business, according to a person briefed on the inquiry. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both opened preliminary investigations into bribery accusations involving Microsoft in China, Italy and Romania, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is a confidential legal matter.
WSJ: EPA Emissions Plan Faces Possible Revamp
An early step toward President Barack Obama's second-term goal of cutting emissions linked to climate change has hit a snag. The Obama administration is weighing changes to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to limit emissions at new power plants, in a preemptive move to protect against possible court challenges, according to people familiar with the matter. The changes may require the EPA to seek more public input, a move that would push the measure months past an April 13 deadline for finalizing it.
NYT: Boeing and Ryanair Agree to a Deal for 175 New Jets
Boeing said on Tuesday that it had signed an order for 175 single-aisle 737s, its biggest deal so far this year, from the European low-cost carrier Ryanair. The agreement is valued at $15.6 billion at current list prices, although Ryanair, like most large customers, received a significant discount. The final sale price remained confidential, but analysts estimated that Ryanair probably paid around 50 percent of the $89.1 million listed price per jet.
WATCH: VIDEO – Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary talks to CNN's Richard Quest about his company's new deal with Boeing.
CNN: FDA changes course on graphic warning labels for cigarettes
The Department of Justice has sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner saying it will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court ruling that blocked new graphic warnings on cigarette packages. The government had until April 5 to appeal the ruling, which struck down the mandate, saying the requirements were a violation of free speech protections.
WaPo: Proposals to change Maryland gun bill would allow some semiautomatic rifles
Some semiautomatic rifles popular with veterans and sportsmen — but also carried by the alleged Aurora, Colo., movie-theater shooter and the Beltway snipers — could remain legal in Maryland under significant changes being weighed to the assault-weapons ban championed by Gov. Martin O’Malley. The Democratic governor’s gun-control legislation, which, among other provisions, would require potential gun buyers to submit to fingerprinting and training, passed the state Senate last month. But it is bogged down in a powerful committee of the House of Delegates, according to several committee members and other legislators.
Hartford Courant: State Offered Development Deal To Makers Of Gun Used In Newtown Massacre
Eight days before Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to kill 26 children and women on Dec. 14 at Sandy HookElementary School in Newtown, state officials offered the manufacturer of the gun a development deal to move its corporate headquarters to Connecticut. On Dec. 6, a top state economic development official sent the Freedom Group an offer for a $1 million loan at the low annual interest rate of 2 percent for 10 years — plus other incentives for the company to move its headquarters, with 25 top executives, from Madison, N.C., to Stamford. The department withdrew the offer on Dec. 18, four days after the Newtown massacre, according to records released in response to a Courant freedom of information request.
Tampa Bay Times: Gun bills languish in firearm-friendly Legislature
There have been more gun control bills filed in the Florida Legislature this year than any in recent memory — but you wouldn't know it. Despite Democrats' push to spark a "conversation" about guns after the Trayvon Martin and Newtown, Conn., shootings, the Republican-led Legislature has traditionally shown little interest in entertaining the gun control debate. As more than two dozen gun control bills languish in a sort of legislative purgatory, one Democratic proposal defied the odds Tuesday, getting a hearing before lawmakers. "We were able to sit everyone down at the table, and it took two minutes," said Rep. Barbara Watson, D-MiamiGardens, who formed an unlikely partnership with the gun lobby to push for new firearm restrictions for mentally ill people. The bill, HB 1355, cleared its first committee on a 13-0 vote.
Portland Press Herald: LePage spurs new debate on Medicaid expansion
Gov. Paul LePage's announcement last week that he was willing to consider expanding government-funded health insurance to 55,000 low-income Mainers has created a new debate over the federal health care law. LePage, who is inclined to reject an expansion of Medicaid on political and ideological grounds, is already encountering resistance from his base of conservative supporters.
Annapolis Capitol Gazette: Senate passes bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana
The Maryland Senate on Tuesday voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. But supporters are far from taking the bill's passage for granted. Lawmakers say the bill, which would remove the threat of jail time for people caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana, likely won't receive a warm welcome at its next stop: the House Judiciary Committee.
New Jersey Star-ledger: Christie says N.J. has asked federal government for $250M to buy homes after Sandy
Gov. Chris Christie said today that New Jersey has asked the federal government for $250 million in Blue Acre funds to purchase homes in flood plains in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. "(It) would be a significant increase in the amount of money," Christie said at a gathering in Lakewood. "One of the places we're really focusing on with Blue Acres will be MiddlesexCounty."
CNN: Islamists claim responsibility for Iraq anniversary attacks
An al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility Wednesday for a chain of 24 bombings and two gun attacks in Iraq a day earlier, as the death toll rose to 61. A statement attributed to the Islamic State of Iraq appeared on extremist websites, calling Tuesday's carnage "retaliation" against Shiite members in government. Though Iraq has grown safer in the last six years, sectarian violence and instability still grip the country 10 years after the start of the U.S.-led war.
NYT: On Gay Unions, a Pragmatist Before He Was a Pope
The very idea was anathema to many of the bishops in the room. Argentina was on the verge of approving gay marriage, and the Roman Catholic Church was desperate to stop that from happening. It would lead tens of thousands of its followers in protest on the streets of Buenos Aires and publicly condemn the proposed law, a direct threat to church teaching, as the work of the devil. But behind the scenes, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who led the public charge against the measure, spoke out in a heated meeting of bishops in 2010 and advocated a highly unorthodox solution: that the church in Argentina support the idea of civil unions for gay couples.
CNN: Report: Al Qaeda kills French hostage held in Mali
A French hostage held in Mali has been executed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Mauritania's ANI news agency reported late Tuesday. The agency attributed the information to an AQIM spokesman. Six other French hostages are still being held in Mali, ANI said.
Reuters: North Korean elite beating sanctions, one plasma TV at a time
North Koreans appear to be having little trouble taking home the latest cameras, flat-screen TVs and other items from China despite U.N. sanctions that are supposed to make it harder for the country's elite to enjoy the good things in life. Shops selling anything from electronics to perfume near Pyongyang's embassy in Beijing are doing a brisk trade while North Koreans waiting to board flights to their capital can be seen checking in items from refrigerators to washing machines. To be sure, the new sanctions don't specifically prohibit such items being imported to North Korea as part of a ban on luxury goods. But the extent of the shopping in Beijing suggests the North Korean elite are not being squeezed by the measures.
CNNMoney: What next for Cyprus?
What now for Cyprus? The path ahead is very unclear. The tiny nation with giant banks and a crushing government debt has soundly rejected a €10 billion bailout offer from the European Union because of public revulsion over the main string attached: a tax on bank deposits. Just days ago, the country's newly-elected president had negotiated the bailout deal. Then on Tuesday he couldn't even persuade his own party in parliament to back the unpopular and unprecedented raid on bank deposits it required.
ALSO SEE: CNNMoney: U.K. flies cash to Cyprus for soldiers
Bloomberg Businessweek: Cyprus Isn't Even Such a Big Offshore Bank Haven
Foreign deposits in Cyprus banks soared more than 60 percent, topping $40 billion, over the past five years, setting the stage for a financial meltdown after the banks invested in Greek bonds and other risky securities. Think that’s scary? Worldwide, there’s an estimated $2.7 trillion stashed in offshore banking havens—and the crisis unfolding in Cyprus shows just how little progress has been made in bringing the situation under control.
CNN: French budget minister steps down amid investigation
French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac has resigned as prosecutors said they had opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that he had an undeclared bank account in Switzerland, officials said Tuesday.
NYT: Protecting Their Own, Russians Offer an Alternative to the Cypriot Bank Tax
When the European Union said it would bail out Cypriot banks by seizing a percentage of deposits, Cypriots erupted. Russian government officials also raged, on behalf of Cyprus’s many Russian depositors. Meanwhile Gazprom, the giant Russian energy company, quietly acted by offering a private bailout plan. Rather than tax deposits, Cyprus could raise money to right its economy by selling Gazprom exploration rights to offshore gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea. The fate of this proposal is uncertain.
CNN: Italy accuses India of violating international law in dispute over marines
A diplomatic showdown between Italy and India is escalating, with Rome saying that an Indian court order forbidding the Italian ambassador from leaving the South Asian country breaches international law. The dispute centers on Italy's refusal to send back two of its marines who are due to face trial in India over accusations they killed two Indian fishermen off the country's coast last year.
CNNMoney: Fed meeting: Bracing for Bernanke buzzkill
Stocks are rallying, job growth is strengthening and a housing recovery is well underway - but don't expect the Federal Reserve to back away from its stimulative policies just yet. If anything, the Fed is likely to deliver a buzzkill after its two-day meeting wraps up Wednesday. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke will also address the state of the economy in a press conference following the release of the Fed's latest statement on interest rates and new economic forecasts.
Bloomberg: Euro Falls Toward 4-Month Low Versus Dollar
The euro weakened toward the lowest in almost four months against the dollar after the Cypriot parliament voted down a bank-deposit levy needed to secure a bailout, risking renewed tumult in the currency bloc. The 17-nation currency fell for a fourth day versus the yen as an official familiar with the matter said European policy makers in Cyprus discussed further capital controls and extending a bank holiday through to the end of the week. The yen and dollar rose against most major peers as investors sought havens on concern Europe’s crisis may worsen. New Zealand’s currency held declines after Finance Minister Bill English said a drought may reduce pressure on interest rates.
WSJ: J.P. Morgan Bosses Hit by Bank Regulator
J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -0.63% & Co. was downgraded in a confidential government scorecard over concerns about the company's management and its board, a blow to a firm that has long been considered one of the best-run on Wall Street. The New York company's management rating from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fell one notch last July to a level that signifies oversight "needs improvement," following the revelation of what are known as the "London whale" trading losses, said people familiar with the regulatory assessment.
CNNMoney: JPMorgan agrees to $546 million settlement in MF Global dispute
The MF Global fiasco edged closer to final resolution Wednesday after JPMorgan Chase agreed to return $546 million to customers of the failed brokerage. JPMorgan will pay $100 million to MF Global clients, according to the terms of the agreement. The trustee charged with liquidating the brokerage's assets will release another $417 million in funds that had previously been returned by the bank. JPMorgan will also return a final $29 million in funds held by the bank after MF Global's stunning collapse and bankruptcy in late 2011.
CNNMoney: Volkswagen to recall 384,181 vehicles in China
State regulators said Wednesday that Volkswagen will recall 384,181 cars in China, just days after the automaker was the subject of a state television expose. The investigation, which aired Friday as part of China Central Television's annual consumer rights broadcast, examined problems with Volkswagen's direct shift gearbox - or DSG.