CNN: U.S. says it sent B-2 stealth bombers over South Korea
The United States said Thursday it sent stealth bombers to South Korea to participate in annual military exercises amid spiking tensions with North Korea. The B-2 Spirit bombers flew more than 6,500 miles from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to South Korea, dropping inert munitions there as part of the exercises, before returning to the U.S. mainland, the U.S Forces in Korea said in a statement.
CNN: Nelson Mandela back in hospital with lung infection
Former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital after a recurrence of a lung infection, the South African president's office said Thursday. The Nobel laureate was admitted to hospital on Wednesday night.
CNN: New documents to be released in Sandy Hook shooting
There has been much speculation over what was going on in Adam Lanza's head when he walked into Sandy HookElementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, with an assault rifle in December and opened fire on small children. Thursday morning state prosecutors are planning to release new documents in the case, but it may not shed more light on the reasons for the mass shooting. The families of victims were briefed Wednesday about the new documents, said Stephen Sedensky, a local prosecutor.
CNN: New details: Loughner's parents took gun, disabled car to keep him home
Jared Loughner's behavior was so disturbing that his father confiscated his shotgun and took to disabling his car every night to keep him home in the months leading up to an Arizona shooting rampage that left six people dead, according to investigative documents released Wednesday. Loughner's parents even went so far in the days and weeks before to tell their son he needed to get help "(be)cause his behavior is, um, been not normal," his mother, Amy, told investigators, according to transcripts of recorded interviews by investigators. The documents reveal vivid details about the events leading up to and surrounding the January 8, 2011, shooting during a meet-and-greet with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery story.
WATCH: VIDEO – Police files show Loughner's parents were so concerned about his behavior, they took his shotgun and disabled his car.
CNN: Colorado theater shooting suspect offers to plead guilty
Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes has offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, according to court documents filed Wednesday. Prosecutors have not accepted the offer. Previously, they had said they would make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty against the 25-year-old Holmes at a hearing April 1.
CNN: Woman arrested for allegedly buying weapon used to kill Colorado prison chief
A 22-year-old woman is accused of buying the weapon used to kill Colorado prison chief Tom Clements last week and funneling the weapon to the alleged gunman. Investigators say Stevie Marie Vigil of Commerce City, Colorado, bought the gun used to kill Colorado prison chief Tom Clements. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Stevie Marie Vigil of Commerce City, Colorado, was arrested Wednesday night. Authorities say she made a "straw purchase" from a weapons dealer and transferred the weapon to Evan Ebel, a convicted felon who could not purchase his own firearm.
CNN: Five justices appear receptive to gutting Defense of Marriage Act
A majority of justices raised questions in oral arguments Wednesday about the federal Defense of Marriage Act, indicating the Supreme Court may strike down a key part of the law that denies legally married same-sex couples the same benefits provided to heterosexual spouses. A ruling is expected within three months on the constitutionality of the 1996 law that defines marriage for federal purposes as only between one man and one woman.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Same-sex marriage and DOMA: 5 things we learned from oral arguments
USA Today: Texting in traffic: Adults worse than teens
Forget teenagers. Adults are the biggest texting-while-driving problem in the USA. What's worse — they know it's wrong. Almost half of all adults admit to texting while driving in a survey by AT&T provided to USA TODAY, compared with 43% of teenagers. More than 98% of adults — almost all of them — admit they know it's wrong but still do it. Six in 10 say they weren't doing it three years ago. …This follows an extensive national campaign against distracted driving: 39 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving for all drivers, and an additional five states prohibit the practice for new drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Bloomberg: Methadone Deaths Tied to For-Profit Clinics Prompt Bills
At least five state legislatures are considering bills to tighten oversight of methadone clinics after allegations that take-home doses of the drug are contributing to illegal street sales, misuse and deaths. Measures in West Virginia, Minnesota, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Maine, if passed, could increase costs or limit revenue for the nation’s largest methadone chains - both of them backed by private equity firms: CRC Health Corp. is owned by Boston-based Bain Capital Partners LLC; and Colonial Management Group LP is in the portfolio of Warwick Group Inc. of New Canaan, Connecticut.
WSJ: Use of Food Stamps Swells Even as Economy Improves
The financial crisis is over and the recession ended in 2009. But one of the federal government's biggest social welfare programs, which expanded when the economy convulsed, isn't shrinking back alongside the recovery. Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the modern-day food-stamp benefit is known, has soared 70% since 2008 to a record 47.8 million as of December 2012. Congressional budget analysts think participation will rise again this year and dip only slightly in coming years.
CNN: Health care law will raise insurers' costs, actuaries say
Republican opponents of President Obama's Affordable Care Act got some new ammunition this week: A study released by the Society of Actuaries on Tuesday predicts that costs could rise an average of 32% by 2017 for insurers serving the individual health care market. Insurers in some states could see costs rise significantly more than that, the study reports, with increases estimated to top out at 80% in Ohio and Wisconsin, and 60% in California, Idaho, Maryland and Indiana. These increases could then be passed on to consumers through higher premiums.
CNN: Massive cyberattack hits Internet users
Internet users around the globe were facing slowed down service thanks to what's being called the biggest cyberattack in history. The prolonged denial-of-service assault is targeting The Spamhaus Project, a European spam-fighting group that has gone after CyberBunker, a data-storage company that offers to host any content "except child porn and anything related to terrorism." The organization has been in a long-running feud with CyberBunker and claims spammers use it as a host from which to spray junk mail across the Web.
CNN: Immigration reform coming soon, Obama tells Spanish networks
U.S. President Barack Obama had a clear message in interviews with two of America's largest Spanish-language broadcast television networks on Wednesday: Immigration reform is coming soon. A group of lawmakers are close to working out the details of their proposal, Obama said. "I'm actually very optimistic that when they return in early April we will see a bill ready to move through the process," he told Telemundo.
CNN: Obama to visit Mexico, Costa Rica in May
U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Mexico and Costa Rica in May, officials said Wednesday. The trip, scheduled to take place May 2-4, "is an important opportunity to reinforce the deep cultural, familial and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America," the White House said in a statement. Economic and trade ties will be topics of discussion in Obama's scheduled meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, the White House said. Mexico's foreign ministry said a wide range of issues would be on the table.
Politico: Biden: Country is 'on the verge' of universal background checks
Vice President Biden said the country is “on the verge” of requiring universal background checks for gun purchases. Speaking to supporters of gun control during a call hosted by Mike Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Biden said it wasn’t clear in 1994 that the background checks bill passed then would be so easily bypassed. He sounded an optimistic tone that talks ongoing now would close the loophole.
CNN: Immigration tops agenda as senators tour border
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators at the heart of the debate over immigration reform toured the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona on Wednesday - the latest sign of growing legislative momentum on a polarizing issue that has been stalled on Capitol Hill for years. Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake were joined on the tour by New York's Chuck Schumer and Colorado's Michael Bennet, both Democrats. The four men are part of a group of eight senators expected to unveil comprehensive legislation soon after Congress returns from its spring break in April.
National Journal: House GOP Leaders Silent on Marriage Law They're Paying to Defend
As attorney Paul Clement took to the Supreme Court to defend the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of House Republicans, the lawmakers who hired him to do so stood silently by. It was the right thing to do, many Republican strategists say, to avoid distracting from the GOP’s core economic message. But some members of the House Republican Conference thought their leaders should have done more to publicly stand behind an effort that is important to social conservatives. “The silence was absolutely deafening and very disappointing to the millions of value voters that are in the party,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., told National Journal Daily.
CNN: Ashley Judd won't run for Senate
Actress and Democrat Ashley Judd, who was openly considering challenging Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for his Kentucky seat in 2014, announced Wednesday she was "currently unable" to run for public office. "After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family," Judd wrote on Twitter.
ALSO SEE: Politico: Mitch McConnell taking no prisoners
HuffPo: OFA Campaign Finance Reform Push Explained In Call To Supporters
President Barack Obama's reformatted campaign organization held a conference call with New York state supporters Wednesday night to stoke grassroots support for public campaign financing in the state. The call, hosted by Organizing for Action, the non-profit that has replaced the Obama campaign, introduced volunteers to publicly financed elections, which have been endorsed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). OFA leaders explained that volunteers won't have to build a campaign from the ground-up, but rather will help push reform legislation over the finish line. …The campaign finance push is OFA's first foray into local politics and away from Obama's presidential agenda. The move will test whether the organization that propelled Obama to two presidential victories can successfully drive a policy change without the president's leadership.
Bloomberg: Christie Re-Election Path Goes Through New Jersey Cities
Cities have become a central front in Governor Chris Christie’s drive to win a second term in New Jersey, where shopping malls and leafy subdivisions have been the seat of political power for 50 years. Christie, the first Republican elected governor of the GardenState since 1997, in the past month has gone to Paterson, Jersey City and Atlantic City, places where he got 11 percent or less of the 2009 vote. State Senator Barbara Buono, a suburban Democrat, is backed by Newark’s mayor and four council members. With his approval ratings at record highs, Christie, 50, wants to become the first Republican to win more than half of the statewide vote in a quarter-century this November.
CNN: Cate Edwards recalls being 'devastated' at news of father's affair
In her first public remarks since the trial of John Edwards last year, daughter Cate Edwards recalls feeling angry and disappointed upon hearing of his extramarital affair. "I was devastated," Edwards said Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show. "And I was disappointed. I mean, these are my parents. I had grown up with a lot of love in my family. And it was hard to see them go through this."
CNN: U.S. officials concerned over North Korea's 'ratcheting up of rhetoric'
The Obama administration on Wednesday slammed North Korea's pugnacious rants toward South Korea and the West and a U.S. intelligence official called the strident remarks worrisome. "The ratcheting up of rhetoric is of concern to us," the official said. The question is whether this is "just rhetoric," he said. Or, "are things happening behind the scenes indicating the blustering has something to it." Another U.S. official said there is a lot of uncertainty about North Korea's intentions.
ALSO SEE: BBC: N Korea border factory operating despite hotline move
CNN: Texas investigator found 30+ bruises, cuts on dead boy adopted from Russia
A 3-year-old adopted boy - whose death in West Texas has drawn stern criticism from Russia - had more than 30 bruises, cuts and other marks on his body soon after he was pronounced dead, according to a report from a Texas medical examiner obtained by CNN. Along with his 2-year-old brother, Max Shatto arrived in the United States with his adoptive parents in November 2011. Just more than two months later, his adoptive mother told authorities that she found him unresponsive in the family's Gardendale, Texas, backyard. He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a nearby hospital. Soon after Max's death on January 21, Russia's top child rights advocate tweeted that the boy had been "killed" or "murdered."
WSJ: U.N. Investigates Report of Fraud at Kabul Office
The United Nations will review new allegations by international monitors of fraud at the Afghanistan office of the world body's refugee agency, the top U.S. official in Kabul said on Wednesday. The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, an anticorruption group of Afghan and international officials, said this week it had evidence of "potentially fraudulent activity" at the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which works with Afghan agencies to support returning Afghan refugees and aid displaced people. The MEC said it had evidence UNHCR rented houses on behalf of the Afghan government from top Afghan officials and paid salaries to nonexistent employees, among other allegations.
NYT: U.N. Close to Curbing Arms Trade With Treaty
The effort over many years to forge an international treaty regulating the booming $70 billion annual trade in conventional weapons headed toward fruition on Wednesday with a final draft sent to the governments of all United Nations member states for approval. Supporters, including a majority of member states, hope that the Arms Trade Treaty will be approved by consensus at a final negotiation session here on Thursday.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: TSA expedites screening for 'wounded warriors'
Two weeks after a severely disabled Marine reportedly was "humiliated" by his treatment at a Phoenix airport security checkpoint, the details remain in dispute, but the government took steps Wednesday to prevent a similar encounter from happening. The Transportation Security Administration said it is greatly expanding a program that expedites screening for active-duty and inactive "wounded warriors," giving them the same expedited screening now available to active-duty, uniformed military personnel.
Anchorage Daily News: Coast Guard wants both Shell drill rigs to face pollution investigation
The Coast Guard has asked the Justice Department to investigate possible pollution violations by both of the drilling rigs Shell used in its botched efforts to explore for oil last year in the Arctic Ocean waters off the northern coast of Alaska. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo said Wednesday that he'd turned over to the Justice Department for review and possible prosecution an investigation into the troubled Shell drilling rig Kulluk. Ostebo said it was an "investigation into potential Marpol violations."
CNNMoney: Bankruptcy judge OKs American-US Airways merger
A federal bankruptcy judge gave approval on Wednesday for US Airways and American Airlines to proceed with their planned merger, but declined to authorize a proposed severance package worth nearly $20 million for the CEO of American's bankrupt parent company. US Airways and American Airlines announced plans last month to join forces in an $11 billion deal to create the world's largest airline.
WaPo: Little-known surveillance tool raises concerns by judges, privacy activists
Federal investigators in Northern California routinely used a sophisticated surveillance system to scoop up data from cellphones and other wireless devices in an effort to track criminal suspects — but failed to detail the practice to judges authorizing the probes. The practice was disclosed Wednesday in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California — in a glimpse into a technology that federal agents rarely discuss publicly. The investigations used a device known as a StingRay, which simulates a cellphone tower and enables agents to collect the serial numbers of individual cellphones and then locate them.
Boston Globe: Mayor Menino won’t seek sixth term
Mayor Thomas M. Menino will announce at a Faneuil Hall event Thursday afternoon that he will not seek a sixth term in office, according to officials familiar with his decision. Menino arrived at his decision late last week and reconsidered it for the last several days to be sure he felt comfortable following through, the officials said. He plans to tell most of his aides and advisers Thursday morning.
The Tennessean: Gov. Haslam takes gamble with TennCare choice
Gov. Bill Haslam bought himself more time to work on a deal on Medicaid expansion, but he also borrowed future political problems by delaying a decision on how to handle coverage for 180,000 uninsured Tennesseans. Haslam announced Wednesday that he would not call for expanding TennCare, the Medicaid program that covers nearly one in five Tennesseans, in next year’s budget. But he said he would continue to try to negotiate a deal with the federal government that would let Tennessee buy private coverage for the uninsured sometime in the future.
Arizona Republic: Abortion enters Arizona debate on Medicaid expansion
One of the Legislature’s most powerful lobbying groups says Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid-expansion plan would subsidize abortions and is pushing for an amendment that complicates negotiations and threatens the proposal. The Center for Arizona Policy is using an opinion from the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal-defense organization, to argue that the draft Medicaid legislation should be amended to disqualify the non-profit women’s health provider Planned Parenthood from receiving public money.
Tampa Bay Times: Free-spending ex-Florida GOP chief Greer gets 18 months in prison
Jim Greer, hand shaker, party thrower, power seeker, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in state prison plus one year of probation. Greer, 50 and a father of five, last month pleaded guilty to four counts of theft and one count of money laundering, admitting he had created a company called Victory Strategies to siphon to himself and an associate some $200,000 of party donations.
New Orleans Times-Picayune: Criminal investigation examining Jefferson Parish Housing Authority, sources say
Federal investigators have launched a criminal probe of the Jefferson Parish Housing Authority, including some of the findings from a 2012 audit that questioned more than $650,000 in agency spending, sources familiar with the case said. The investigation involves agents from the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the same entity that conducted the audit.
Boston Herald: Senate candidates face off
U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey slammed his Democratic Senate rival for voting against Obamacare last night while U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch hit Markey for his “acrobatics” on abortion during the pivotal first clash in the U.S. Senate special election. Markey struck first only minutes into the debate, turning to Lynch and demanding he explain why he didn’t support the health care reform legislation.
The Columbus Dispatch: Teachers learn to shoot to protect students from gunmen
Arming teachers in classrooms is the best way to stop more mass murders, said Jim Irvine, the president of the Buckeye Firearm Association. “Gun control is purely political and has no place in this conversation,” Irvine said. “It doesn’t work.” This is why the Buckeye Firearm Foundation, a non-profit with the association, paid $30,000 for two dozen Ohio school teachers, administrators and maintenance workers to learn how to handle a gun should a shooter invade a school.
CNNMoney: Cyprus banks to reopen with strict cash limits
Preparing to open its banks for the first time in nearly two weeks, Cyprus took the unprecedented step Wednesday of setting limits on the movement of cash out of the country to other eurozone states. For the first time since the euro was launched on Jan 1, 1999, a member country will restrict how much money individuals and companies can take across its borders. The tiny island nation is putting the extensive measures in place to prevent a run on its banks when they reopen Thursday for the first time since March 16.
ALSO SEE: Fox News: Russia's support for Cyprus' seizures of deposits may mean big money already out
CNN: Syria to BRICS nations: Help stop flow of money, weapons to rebels
Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday called on leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to help staunch the flow of money and weapons to rebels in the 2-year-old civil war. The plea came the same day that the Syrian opposition opened an embassy in Doha, Qatar. Arab League representatives meeting there on Tuesday allowed the rebels to take Syria's seat at the summit
Reuters: Sanctions noose makes it harder for Japan's Koreans to help their own
When the now elderly man left Japan on a Soviet ship in 1960 for North Korea, he thought he was headed to the promised land. In reality, he survived 47 years there thanks only to $1 million in support from his half-brother in Japan. …Much of the Korean community in Japan is descended from people who were shipped across as forced labor during Tokyo's 35-year colonial rule of the Korean peninsula, which ended with Japan's defeat in World War Two. In a twist of fate, the man fled back to Japan in 2008 and is now supporting his wife and children in the North. Like other Koreans sending money to the North from either Japan or South Korea, he may find transactions coming under greater scrutiny after new U.N. sanctions were imposed on Pyongyang for its third nuclear test in February.
The Guardian: Malala Yousafzai sells life story for a reported £2m
The life story of a 15-year Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban will be published later this year, in a deal reported to be worth around £2m. "I am Malala" will be published in the autumn and will tell the story of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by Taliban gunmen after she became an advocate for woman's education in the SwatValley. She now attends a school in Birmingham. Yousafzai said: "I hope this book will reach people around the world, so they realise how difficult it is for some children to get access to education.
NYT: Elite in China Face Austerity Under Xi’s Rule
Life for the almighty Chinese government official has come to this: car pools, domestically made wristwatches and self-serve lunch buffets. In the four months since he was anointed China’s paramount leader and tastemaker-in-chief, President Xi Jinping has imposed a form of austerity on the nation’s famously free-spending civil servants, military brass and provincial party bosses. Warning that graft and gluttony threaten to bring down the ruling Communists, Mr. Xi has ordered an end to boozy, taxpayer-financed banquets and the bribery that often takes the form of a gift-wrapped Louis Vuitton bag
BBC: Rio Olympics 2016 stadium 'will not be demolished'
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro has said the stadium due to host the athletics events at the 2016 Olympics will not be demolished, despite structural problems that have led to its closure. In a TV interview, Mayor Eduardo Paes said he closed the Joao Havelange stadium on Tuesday because of a risk of the roof collapsing. Further studies were needed to find out what had caused the problem, he said. The stadium is to remain shut as a safety measure until further notice.
CNN: Myanmar police fire rubber bullets at rioters
Riots broke out in central Myanmar on Wednesday, authorities said, as police struggled to stop groups of Buddhists from setting fire to mosques and Muslims' homes. The violence comes after a state of emergency was declared last week in the area where clashes between the two communities first broke out, leaving at least 40 people dead.
CNN: A grisly crime surges into spotlight as Mexico shifts drug war strategy
It was a staggering sight, even in a Mexican city that has seen its share of violence in recent years as drug-related crimes surged. Seven bodies sat slumped in white plastic chairs placed near a central plaza in Uruapan, Mexico. Local media reported messages were left behind, written on poster board and pinned to some of the victims' bodies with icepicks. The men appeared to have been killed by gunfire, and investigators believe organized crime groups are to blame, Mexico's state-run Notimex news agency said.
Reuters: Bulgaria says EU could still act against Hezbollah
Bulgaria will provide more evidence Hezbollah planned an attack that killed five Israelis, in a move it said on Wednesday should convince European Union countries to put the Islamist group on its terrorist list. Bulgaria accused the Lebanese militant movement on February 5 of carrying out a bomb attack on a bus in the Black Sea city of Burgas that killed the Israelis and their Bulgarian driver last July.
US Weekly: Exclusive: Prince William Leaving Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Job
Prince William has handed in his pink slip. The heir to the British throne, 30, has submitted his formal notice with the Search and Rescue Force at Royal Air Force Valley in Anglesey, Wales, a military source confirms exclusively to Us Weekly. The helicopter pilot's current tour with the RAF concludes this summer. "William is ready to take on new challenges – as a royal and within the armed forces," the insider explains. Indeed, come July, William and pregnant wife Kate Middleton will take on the biggest new challenge of all: Parenthood!
WSJ: China Worries Arise in Sprint Deal
The U.S. government is seeking oversight of network-equipment purchases as a condition for approving Softbank Corp.'s 9984.TO +1.52% $20 billion acquisition of U.S. phone carrier Sprint Nextel Corp., S -0.17% a move that appears to be aimed at keeping out Chinese suppliers like Huawei Technologies Co., people familiar with the matter said. U.S. treatment of those suppliers has inflamed tensions between the U.S. and China, which are already sparring over accusations of computer hacking and trade issues.
USA Today: Chirpy Twitter ad report perks up IPO prospects
Twitter's prospects as an IPO candidate just got brighter. The San Francisco microblogging company is expected to haul in $950 million in ad revenue in 2014, according to eMarketer, as the company gains traction in mobile advertising. That's up from the firm's September forecast of $808 million in the period. The researcher predicts ad revenue of $1.3 billion by 2015. Twitter is widely expected to file regulatory documents as soon as this year to go public in one of the most highly anticipated IPOs.
Financial Times: Google eyewear to be ‘made in USA’
Google will manufacture Project Glass, its futuristic digital eyewear, in Silicon Valley, in a high-profile example of the return of electronics manufacturing to the US. Google is working with Hon Hai Precision Industry, the Taiwanese contract manufacturer better known as Foxconn, to assemble the sci-fi headset at a facility in Santa Clara, California, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. The decision to manufacture in California will boost President Barack Obama’s drive, set out in his State of the Union address, to ensure “the next revolution in manufacturing is ‘Made in America’”.
WSJ: Chevron Cuts Compensation for CEO John Watson, Others Over Safety
Chevron Corp.'s CVX -0.65% board is cutting compensation for its chief executive and other top executives following a string of accidents since late 2011. Chevron's board trimmed certain awards related to stock performance by 11% and bonuses by at least 10% for Chairman and CEO John S. Watson and several other executives, a person familiar with the decision said Wednesday. "When things go poorly, the pay should reflect it," the person said. The directors "absolutely want to deliver a message to management."