CNN Washington AM Note
April 3rd, 2013
05:50 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: Probe of Texas prosecutor killings looks at corruption cases

While speculation swirls around them, investigators in this north Texas county are leaving no stone unturned as they dig for clues into who killed two prosecutors. Theories have included hits by grudge-holding drug cartels or by a white supremacist gang targeted by Texas and federal authorities last year. CNN has learned that beyond those possible scenarios, tight-lipped investigators are looking at local public corruption cases in Kaufman County.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Skid marks among few clues in Texas prosecutor slayings

CNN: Records: Colorado parolee disabled ankle monitor days before killings

It took five days for Colorado authorities to realize a parolee disabled his ankle monitor and fled, beginning what investigators would later say was a deadly crime spree that ended in a shootout in Texas, according to records released Tuesday. The documents released by the Colorado Department of Corrections detail how 28-year-old Evan Ebel managed to elude authorities in the days leading up to the killings of prisons chief Tom Clements and part-time pizza deliveryman Nathan Leon. The state Department of Corrections did not respond to repeated requests from CNN for comment.

CNN: Video shows Rutgers coach shoving, hitting and berating players

A video released by ESPN shows Rutgers University's head basketball coach shoving players, kicking them, hurling balls at their heads and yelling what appears to be homophobic slurs and profanity. The video released Tuesday features Coach Mike Rice during the men's basketball team practices. It was not made public until Tuesday.

In addition to grabbing and shoving players, in the video Rice also berates them and uses profanity. Rutgers athletic director Tom Pernetti suspended the coach for three games and fined him $50,000 after watching the video in November.

CNN: Arkansas spill strengthens arguments of Keystone foes

An Arkansas pipeline spill that coated streets and lawns with a smelly, asphalt-like crude oil provides opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline with new ammunition to combat the project that would bring more of the tar sands bitumen from Canada. The Obama administration is expected to issue a decision on expanding the Keystone pipeline in coming months, after an upcoming public hearing that is part of the State Department's assessment of the border-crossing proposal. The project has become a flashpoint in Washington and a dilemma of sorts for President Barack Obama, who will anger the liberal Democratic base if he approves the pipeline or face condemnation from Republicans and pro-business moderates if he nixes job creation by opposing it.

CNN: Hutchinson, NRA’s school safety point man, supports expanding background checks

Asa Hutchinson, the former Republican congressman who led the National Rifle Association’s school safety initiative, personally disagrees with its opposition to universal background checks, he told CNN on Tuesday. "Yes. Absolutely. I'm open to expanding background checks," he said in response to a question on the "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." Appointed by the powerful gun lobby to investigate school safety and how to improve it after the December shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Hutchinson said broadening the scope of background checks could only occur under certain circumstances. “If you can do it in a way that does not infringe upon an individual and make it hard for an individual to transfer to a friend or a neighbor or somebody," he said. A spokesman for the NRA told CNN after the remarks that Hutchinson was "not speaking” for the NRA, which does not back universal background checks.

NY Times: Report Links High Rates of Gun Violence to Weak State Regulations

Many states with the weakest gun laws have the worst rates of gun violence, ranking high on numerous indicators, like gun homicides and suicides, firearm deaths of children, and killings of law enforcement officers, according to a report to be issued Wednesday by the liberal Center for American Progress. Alaska ranked first in overall gun deaths, the report found, with 20.28 deaths per 100,000 people in 2010 — more than twice the national average — followed by Louisiana and Montana, all states that prior analyses have judged to have weak gun laws. Eight of the states with the highest levels of gun violence were among the 25 with the weakest gun laws, the report found.

WaPo: Stanford to help build edX MOOC platform

Stanford University will team with a nonprofit founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to develop an open-source Web platform for free online college courses. The Stanford alliance with the nonprofit venture edX, announced early Wednesday, signaled a new twist in what has become a race to open up the highest levels of higher education to the world. Stanford has been central in the emergence of what are known as massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which have drawn interest from millions of people around the world.

NPR: Could Wind Turbines Be Toxic To The Ear?

The U.S. is embracing wind energy, with wind turbines making up half of the new electricity added to the power grid last year. But a smattering of people who live near the turbines say they're a nuisance — and making them ill. Dr. Nina Pierpont, a Johns Hopkins-trained pediatrician and biologist in upstate New York, has been collecting their anecdotes for years. She coined the term wind turbine syndrome to encompass the symptoms of headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, ear pain, and difficulty sleeping that people in several states and countries have complained of — largely on the Internet. …The World Health Organization, which classifies diseases, does not recognize wind turbine syndrome, nor does any other medical institution. And otolaryngologists, who are experts on ear health, have remained largely silent on the issue. Until now.

WHITE HOUSE:

CNN: Obama to resume gun control push in Colorado, Connecticut

When President Barack Obama visited last July with victims of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre, he expressed hope that "over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country." The president repeated that call after the December elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and has taken that message on the road in a series of events in places around the country touched by gun violence. Obama will continue calling for gun violence legislation on Wednesday when he speaks at the Denver Police Academy, the White House said.

CNN: Obama CA fundraiser host has history of bipartisan giving

President Barack Obama heads West on Wednesday, continuing his push for stricter gun control regulations in Denver before heading to California for the first major fund-raising swing of his second term. Obama has four events on his schedule: Two in San Francisco on Wednesday night to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and two just south of the city in Atherton on Thursday morning to benefit the Democratic National Committee. Not surprisingly, the hosts of all the events have previously donated to the president at some point in his political career, and some have even written sizable donations to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting Obama's 2012 reelection bid. But one host's donation history is a bit more unorthodox.

Time: Obama, Both Bushes, Clinton, and Carter, the ‘World’s Most Exclusive Club,’ to Reunite

On April 25, President Barack Obama will be united with his four living predecessors in Dallas for the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University, officials confirmed Tuesday. According to White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, both Obama and First Lady Michele Obama will be on hand when the 43rd President’s library and museum are dedicated. The last time all five met was in January 2009 before Obama was sworn in, in a meeting and lunch hosted by Bush in the Oval Office for the members of the world’s most exclusive club. President George H.W. Bush and Barbara will attend, as will President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn will also attend, according to spokeswoman Deanna Congileo.

Politico: Sequester looms over storied energy labs

The Energy Department’s sprawling network of national laboratories helped spawn the atomic bomb and survived the end of the Cold War — and the labs have withstood calls for the federal government to downsize or merge them. But now comes the sequester, which may force the department to do what lawmakers haven’t: downsize this piece of the government despite the parochial politics that have kept the labs going. The 17 national labs cost $10 billion a year and have a storied history — think the Manhattan Project, lithium batteries and particle accelerators. But they’ve become an example of how bureaucratic inertia can thwart calls for streamlining government.

CNN: Obama seeks $100M to unlock mysteries of the brain

President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled a $100 million initiative to unlock the "enormous mystery" of the human brain in hopes of boosting the understanding and treatment of brain disorders. "What if computers could respond to our thoughts? Or language barriers could come tumbling down? Or if millions of Americans were suddenly finding new jobs in these fields - jobs we haven't even dreamt up yet because we chose to invest in this project? That is the future we are imagining. That is what we are hoping for," the president said in an event in the East Room of the White House.

WATCH: VIDEO – Supporters say the president's plan will create jobs and help scientists better understand how the brain works.

Politico: Obama's trash-talkers

A week after leaving the White House earlier this year, David Plouffe took to his new Twitter account to announce that he thinks Karl Rove’s credibility is shot and his understanding of the electorate is “stupefyingly” dumb. Tommy Vietor, another Obama ex-White House veteran, hit Twitter to offer his own measured critique about a tweet by Sen. John McCain concerning a new documentary on the Benghazi attacks —“disgusting, shameless,” Vietor said. And former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau evidently didn’t think much about a tweet from columnist Ron Fournier of National Journal that compared White House aide Dan Pfeiffer to Rush Limbaugh. “You’re joking, right?” Favreau tweeted in response. “Otherwise, you’ve just won the Nobel Prize of False Equivalence.” Twitter is aflame these days with high-ranking former Obama aides.

CAPITOL HILL:

Politico: Past foes return on immigration

For the past several weeks, conservative critics of a comprehensive immigration bill have remained mostly mum as Senate negotiators privately hammer out a sweeping proposal they want to unveil as soon as next week. That’s about to change. Forces on the right vow to replicate the 2007 effort that led to the demise of George W. Bush’s immigration overhaul, arguing the plan would be too costly and that it would help foreigners and illegal immigrants at the expense of U.S. workers, not to mention eventually providing many with federal benefits. The goal is to stoke enough outrage on the right to dissuade wayward Republicans and moderate Democrats from endorsing the measure.

National Journal: The 7 Senate Democratic Holdouts on Gay Marriage

With the decision Tuesday by Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware to endorse gay marriage, only seven Democratic senators are left who have not publicly announced their support, and there's good political reason behind their reticence. With Carper flip-flopping, nearly all of the Democrats who oppose gay marriage are from Republican states, with the exception of Florida’s Bill Nelson. Two are up for reelection in 2014, and are unlikely to change their mind before then.

Politico: Louisiana Senate 2014: Bill Cassidy to challenge Mary Landrieu

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) will announce a run for a U.S. Senate seat on Wednesday, sources confirmed to POLITICO. The impending announcement that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, first reported by The Associated Press, will take place in a video. Landrieu has been identified as a moderate Democrat that Republicans plan to target in 2014. Cassidy, a doctor from Baton Rouge who was previously in the state Senate, will then launch an announcement tour in the state, a source also confirmed.

Charlotte Observer: Senator: Hospitals profited on drugs for poor, uninsured

An inquiry by a U.S. senator has found that three nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina have made millions from a discount drug program intended to help the poor and uninsured. Hundreds of U.S. hospitals, including more than 40 in North Carolina, obtain deep discounts on outpatient drugs under a rapidly growing federal program called 340B. The plan requires drug manufacturers to cut prices to hospitals that treat large numbers of financially needy patients. But U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says information he obtained from Duke University Hospital, Carolinas Medical Center and UNC Hospitals raise questions about whether the program is functioning as intended.

POLITICAL:

CNN: Not only Democrats are ready for Clinton – Republicans are, too

Just two months have gone by since Hillary Clinton became a private citizen and stepped out of the spotlight for the first time in decades, but already the political world is watching every move she makes in preparation for the 2016 election. The GOP prepared reams of research documents to use against her back in 2008, but a lot of their ammunition went unused. Republican operatives are openly worrying about a Clinton coronation in 2016, so they plan to make use of it early. To that end, groups such as the America Rising super PAC – led by Mitt Romney's former campaign manager Matt Rhoades – are gearing up. Defining Clinton on their terms is the first order of business.

WATCH: VIDEO – Hillary Clinton makes her first official appearance since becoming a private citizen. CNN's Erin McPike reports.

Politico: Rand Paul-backed group attacks Republicans

Sen. Rand Paul, the tea party favorite and possible 2016 presidential candidate, is raising money for a conservative gun rights group that’s targeting fellow Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. And when one congressman complained, the message from Paul’s camp was: too bad. The Kentucky Republican has lent his name to fundraising pitches for the National Association for Gun Rights, a group that says the National Rifle Association is too willing to compromise on gun rights.

CNN: Mark Sanford: Shamed politician fights for comeback

The last time Mark Sanford held public office, his political career was thought to be over after he admitted to an extramarital affair. The South Carolina governor said he was looking for forgiveness when he began his bid for the congressional seat he held from 1995 to 2001. On Tuesday, it appeared that his push for political redemption was working, as he took a 13 percentage point lead in a Republican primary runoff for the seat, according to early, unofficial reports from the South Carolina State Election Commission. His opponent, Charleston City Councilman Curtis Bostic, conceded to Sanford.

ALSO SEE: Roll Call: Mark Sanford’s Argentine Love At Victory Celebration

Bloomberg: Sandberg Seen Laying Groundwork for Role After Facebook: Tech

Sheryl Sandberg, fresh off a media tour to promote her book on women in the workplace, is building the foundation for a life in the public eye that supersedes her day-to-day duties as operating chief at Facebook Inc. (FB). While Sandberg, 43, intends to stay put for now, she may later consider a role in politics; the U.S. Treasury Department, where she worked before; or as chief executive officer at another company, said people familiar with her thinking, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak on her behalf. Already, Sandberg is extending her influence beyond Facebook with the book “Lean In,” which has climbed to No. 1 on bestseller lists.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

Haaretz: Kerry returning to Jerusalem and Ramallah to push for renewal of peace talks

United States Secretary of State John Kerry will return to Israel and the Palestinian territories for the second time in less than two weeks, as part of the Americans’ efforts to kick-start the long-stalled peace process. According to a senior Israeli official who asked to remain anonymous, Kerry is expected to arrive in Israel on Saturday night. Kerry spoke on Tuesday with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and informed them of his plan to return to the region.

CNN: North Korea sparks crisis over workers from South

North Korea on Wednesday stirred up fresh unease in Northeast Asia, blocking hundreds of South Korean workers from entering a joint industrial complex that serves as an important symbol of cooperation between the two countries. The move comes a day after Pyongyang announced plans to restart a nuclear reactor it shut down five years ago and follows weeks of bombastic threats against the United States and South Korea from the North's young leader, Kim Jong Un, and his government. The fiery North Korean rhetoric, fueled by recent U.N. sanctions over its latest nuclear test, has created a tense atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula just as the United States and South Korea are engaged in joint military exercises in South Korean territory.

WSJ: Seoul Seeks Ability to Make Nuclear Fuel

South Korea is pressing the Obama administration for U.S. permission to produce its own nuclear fuel, a move that nonproliferation experts said could trigger a wider nuclear-arms race in North Asia and the Middle East. The negotiation between Seoul and Washington, though part of a broader, long-term civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, is taking place as nuclear pressures swell on both sides of the Korean peninsula.

CNN: U.S. will not accept North Korea as a 'nuclear state,' Kerry says

The United States will not accept North Korea as a "nuclear state," Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Tuesday, just hours after Pyongyang announced plans to restart a nuclear reactor it shut down five years ago. North Korea's decision comes as tensions on the Korean peninsula escalate over Kim Jong Un's threats to wage war against the United States and South Korea.

WATCH: VIDEO – CNN's Jill Dougherty reports on North Korea announcing it will restart a closed nuclear reactor.

WaPo: U.S. struggling to contain nuclear threats from North Korea, Iran

After more than four years of diplomacy, the Obama administration is struggling to contain the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran, a pair of nations already isolated internationally and resistant to the economic incentives offered in return for an end to their programs. The nuclear ambitions of both countries predate the Obama administration, which has focused its efforts on international diplomacy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and to stop North Korea from restarting its once-dormant nuclear program. But amid more bellicose threats from North Korea and on the eve of a new round of talks with Iran, neither the administration nor its Asian and European allies appear any closer to resolving either case.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Top congressman sets bar for military strike on North Korea

CNN: After Benghazi, Marines approved for crisis response force

The Pentagon has approved a Marine crisis response force for North Africa with air transport and combat capabilities, Defense Department officials said, a response to criticism the military was unable to get any forces to the scene of last September's deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The plan for a force of 500 Marines that can arrive at a crisis point within 12 hours has been in the works for weeks. Details are being discussed with the Italian government and others in southern Europe, officials said.

NYT: Military Sees Broader Role for Special Operations Forces, in Peace and War

Here at the headquarters of the Army Special Operations Command, planning is well under way for a significantly increased presence in Africa, Asia and Latin America for the Special Forces soldiers with the distinctive green berets who were the first American troops into Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Special Operations forces, which include Green Berets, Navy SEAL teams, the Rangers and specialized aviation units, have historically been a small corner of the military and not always embraced by conventional commanders. But they took on large and central roles for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their integration with the conventional military transformed the way the Defense Department is thinking about future conflicts.

WaPo: U.S., Jordan stepping up training of Syrian opposition

The United States and Jordan have stepped up training of Syrian opposition forces that may be used to establish a buffer zone along Syria’s southern border, according to U.S. and Jordanian officials. Training begun last year has been expanded and accelerated after rebel gains in the south, including capture of a stretch of the Jordanian-Syrian border near the Golan Heights, two military outposts and the country’s main border crossing with Jordan. Jordanian security officials said a previous timetable to complete training of about 3,000 Free Syrian Army officers by the end of June has been moved up to the end of this month in light of the border victories.

CNN: U.N. approves arms trade pact

The U.N. General Assembly voted to adopt the world body's first treaty to regulate the global arms trade Tuesday, a move Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called "a victory for the world's people." The Arms Trade Treaty will regulate the transfers of tanks, heavy artillery, combat aircraft, missiles, warships and small arms. Ban said the pact will make it harder for weapons to reach black markets and fall into the hands of "warlords, pirates, terrorists, criminals and their like."

ALSO SEE: The Hill: UN approval of arms trade treaty sets up Obama, Senate showdown

AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

WSJ: Border Drones Fall Short of Target

Tightened border security is at the center of immigration proposals in Congress, and for many lawmakers that means greater use of drones and other high-tech monitoring equipment. But tryouts of drones and blimps along U.S. borders suggest the aircraft are more expensive and complex to operate than the government expected. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, HOMS 0.00% used its drones just over one-third of the time they were available, owing to shortages of qualified staff, flight limitations imposed by regulators and other issues, according to a May 2012 report by Homeland Security's inspector general. The border agency has used unmanned planes for nearly a decade.

CNN: Murders of prosecutors in U.S. called 'beyond rare'

The murders of two Texas prosecutors has raised concerns about the safety of others in those positions, but the slayings of prosecutors in the U.S. is "beyond rare," according to a leader of the nation's state and local prosecutors. Scott Burns, executive director for the National District Attorneys Association, indicated Tuesday that there is no need for overreacting to the recent shooting. Burns said the best available figures show that only 13 prosecutors have been killed in the line of duty in the past 100 years.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

Hartford Courant: Gov. Malloy Says He Will Sign Bipartisan Gun Control Bill

Warming to a gun control package that he wouldn't endorse the day before, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he intends to sign the comprehensive gun control bill that lawmakers will vote on Wednesday. "I think it demonstrates once again that we can do things on a bipartisan basis in Connecticut that simply can't be gotten done in Washington or other state capitals," said Malloy. His office had initially declined to comment Monday night when asked if the governor would support the compromise bill that legislative leaders had announced earlier in the evening. The bill represents a bipartisan gun control package in response to the Dec. 14 Newtown school massacre.

San Jose Mercury News: California Legislature takes first steps toward 'ammo control'

Nearly four months after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., and even as gun control legislation appears stalled in Congress, California's Legislature took its first steps toward further tightening its already strong firearm laws Tuesday, when a panel approved a bill to restrict ammunition sales. Under a measure carried by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, people would have to buy ammunition from a licensed dealer and provide identification. The bill, AB48, was approved by the Democratic-controlled Public Safety Committee on a party-line 5-2 vote. It was the first of nearly two dozen bills legislators will soon address to combat gun violence.

Philadelphia Daily News: The rush is on to replace U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz in Congress

U.S. REP. Allyson Schwartz has not officially announced plans to run for governor in 2014. But that hasn't stopped the rush of Democrats interested in grabbing her 13th District seat, which covers parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. One of them, former City Controller Jonathan Saidel, predicts that Schwartz's political plans will be made clear next week. Saidel, who filed federal forms two weeks ago to run for her seat, said he signed on last week to serve as chairman of Schwartz's political-action committee for governor. He's not ready to talk about his bid until Schwartz formally announces her plans.

Burlington Free Press: Milton fifth graders ready for White House work

It’s still too cold in Vermont to make much headway planting a garden, but that’s no concern to five Milton fifth-graders. They plan to head off to Washington, D.C., to help first lady Michelle Obama plant her White House vegetable patch. The five students, Sara Schmoll, Cassie Allen, Hannah Svenson, Nolan Deep and Will Muzzy, leave Wednesday and will help Obama plant the garden Thursday. They’re all qualified for the job, having spent time helping parents or relatives tend their Vermont gardens.

Des Moines Register: Bruce Braley hits the campaign trail in Iowa

Congressman Bruce Braley is further cementing his role as the likely Democratic nominee for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat. Braley jumps into campaigning this week in western Iowa, aides announced today, just one day after he revealed he raised $1 million in just two months. The intimidating campaign largesse could sway other Democrats from seeking the seat that Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin decided in late January to give up in two years. The election is 581 days away, on Nov. 4, 2014.

New Orleans Times Picayune: Expert for feds weighs in on stunning Orleans Parish inmate videos, finds jail security dismal

After courtroom fireworks Tuesday morning from a video depicting drug use, gunplay and beer drinking by inmates inside the Orleans Parish jail complex, and one video showing an inmate hanging out on Bourbon Street, testimony in the week-long hearing over a proposed jail reform package turned to a corrections expert who called inmate violence in the jail the worst he's seen. The testimony from Manuel David Romero, an expert for the U.S. Department of Justice, echoed the testimony Monday from another expert for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represents inmates in the case. Romero, former deputy secretary of the New Mexico prison system, reported a wide array of lapses in the jail facility during two visits last year, in April and December.

The Detroit News: Mitt Romney's niece, Ronna, won't run for Levin's Senate seat

Mitt Romney's niece will not launch a run for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Sen. Carl Levin. Ronna Romney McDaniel told The Detroit News on Tuesday she discussed the possibility of a 2014 Senate bid with her family and decided it's not the right time for the stay-at-home mom of children ages 10 and 8.

INTERNATIONAL:

BBC: Battle rages at governor's compound in west Afghanistan

A fierce battle has erupted in the western Afghan city of Farah after gunmen reportedly rammed the governor's compound with a bomb-laden vehicle. At least 34 people have been wounded, the head of the local hospital told the BBC. No deaths have yet been officially confirmed. Taliban insurgents told one news agency they were behind the attack. Until recently, Farah province, which borders Iran, was seen as a relatively unaffected region.

CNN: More rockets from Gaza irk Israel

The patter of rockets from Gaza into Israel continued Wednesday, according to Israeli authorities. The steady drip of projectiles has irked the Jewish state, which Tuesday conducted its first airstrikes into the Palestinian territory since the cease-fire that ended eight days of raging hostilities in November. Two explosions outside of an Israeli city near Gaza led police bomb disposal experts on a search for rockets Wednesday, said spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

CNN: Palestinian prisoner's death sparks protests in Israel, West Bank

A well-known Palestinian prisoner died of cancer in Israeli custody on Tuesday, sparking outrage among Palestinian groups who accuse Israel of denying him treatment. Maysara Abu Hamdiya, 64, a retired Palestinian general, had been in Israeli prisons since 2002 and was serving a life sentence for alleged involvement in an attempt to bomb a Jerusalem cafe. He died Tuesday morning in an Israeli hospital after being admitted last week because of his deteriorating health, according to the Palestinian Authority's Government Media Center. After the announcement of Abu Hamdiya's death, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails protested by knocking on the doors of their cells and refusing food, the beginning of what they say is a three-day hunger strike, according to a statement by the Palestinian prisoner association.

WSJ: Egypt's Subsidies Stall Its IMF Aid

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund is due to visit Cairo on Wednesday for talks over the country's bid for a $4.8 billion loan, as a political impasse over tough economic reforms pushes Egypt closer to economic collapse. Policy makers in Egypt, which has entered its third year of a rolling political crisis, are facing hard decisions over how to implement austerity measures that are seen as necessary for gaining IMF support, but that threaten to infuriate an already restive Egyptian public. The debate centers on the government's entrenched and pricey subsidies for energy and food—a program labeled by critics as wasteful and undirected. Investors and some policy makers worry that the government doesn't have the political will to cut the subsidies, particularly with parliamentary elections looming in coming months.

ALSO SEE: NYT: Egyptians Struggle as Wary Tourists Stay Away

CNN: Uruguay's senate approves same-sex marriage bill

Uruguayan senators voted overwhelmingly in favor of a same-sex marriage measure Tuesday - a key step that puts the South American nation on the path to becoming the 12th country to approve such a law. Senators approved the marriage equality bill 23-8. Next week, lawmakers in the lower house, which approved a different version of the legislation late last year, are expected to vote on the senate's version. If approved and signed by President Jose Mujica, who has indicated he supports the measure, the proposal would make Uruguay the second country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Neighboring Argentina legalized such marriages in 2010.

WSJ: Canadian Suspects in Algeria Attack Were From Ontario

Two Canadians suspected of taking part in January's attack on the In Amenas natural-gas plant in Algeria were former high-school friends from middle-class neighborhoods in southern Ontario, according to a person familiar with the matter. Much remains unknown about the two suspects, including the details of their alleged evolution from seemingly comfortable upbringings, just a few hours drive from Detroit. But the biographies that acquaintances and people who know their families have so far put together underscore Western governments' increasing fears of the threat of homegrown Islamist radicalization—a fear that has been especially sharp recently in Canada.

Der Speigel: Rail Service Disruption: WWII Bomb Found Near Berlin's Main Station

Train services to and from Berlin are likely to be disrupted on Wednesday after a World War II bomb was discovered in a street near the city's main railway station on Tuesday, rail operator Deutsche Bahn said. …The bomb was found by munitions experts conducting a routine search of a site in preparation of construction work. Unexploded bombs from the Allied bombardment of Germany during World War II are still frequently found. The munitions are getting more difficult and dangerous to defuse because their fuse mechanisms have corroded and become less stable over time.

Global Post: Euro zone unemployment reaches a record 12 percent high

Unemployment across the 17 countries that use the euro reached a record high of 12 percent in January and February, the European Union’s statistics office announced. The European labor market has been in decline for almost two years now, making this the worst downturn since the early 1990s. There is a grim inevitability in the monthly unemployment data, as Eurostat readjusted a previous estimate of 11.9 percent, saying the 17 nations in euro zone shed 33,000 jobs last month, bringing the total number of unemployed to more than 19 million.

CNN: Hong Kong dock strike cripples world's third busiest port

Hundreds of dock workers demanding better pay and working conditions – many of whom work 24-hour shifts for 72 consecutive hours – entered a seventh day of strikes in Hong Kong Wednesday, crippling the world's third busiest container port and causing widespread shipping delays. About 500 workers and their supporters gathered outside Hong Kong's Kwai Tsing Container Terminal, where workers demanded a 15% pay increase and a collective bargaining relationship with the container terminal operator, Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT), according to the strike organizer, Chan Chiu-wai of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

BUSINESS:

CNNMoney: SEC: OK to use Twitter, Facebook for announcements

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings caused a stir last year after he revealed that Netflix's monthly online viewing had exceeded one billion hours on his Facebook page instead of a press release or public filing. That raised concerns about whether social media posts were in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission's Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) rules. But following an investigation prompted by Hastings' post, the SEC has decided it's OK for companies to turn to Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to release important information, as long as they alert investors in advance about which platforms they will use.

Financial Times: BP puts US wind power units up for sale

BP has put its US wind power operations up for sale, estimated to be worth about $1.5bn, as it continues its retreat from renewable energy to focus on its core oil and gas business. Wind power is one of BP’s largest renewable energy businesses, and the company is one of the larger wind generators in the US. It operates 2,600 megawatts of capacity in nine states, and has been expanding rapidly, opening its most recent new wind farm at the end of 2012.

CNNMoney: Dow, S&P close at new highs on health care rally

Strength in the health care sector gave stocks a shot in the arm Tuesday, pushing the Dow and S&P 500 to new record highs. All three major indexes closed at least 0.5% higher. The Dow Jones industrial average hit two new records: an intraday high of about 14,684, and a record close at 14,662. The S&P 500 closed at a record high of 1,570. The Dow and S&P have hit several new records during a solid 2013. Even with a slight retreat Monday, all three indexes are still up between about 8% and 12% for the year.

Financial Times: EU data watchdogs take aim at Google

Europe’s largest data-protection authorities have launched a joint action against Google to force it to remedy alleged breaches of EU privacy rules by the search giant. The move by data-protection authorities from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands is the first co-ordinated and formal procedure by EU states against a single company on privacy, underscoring European frustration with Google.


Filed under: Washington AM Note
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Didn't the Texas prosecutor say that he had a gun and that he was going to make sure he had it with him when he opened his front door. How did that gun work out for him? This is a terrible shooting and it might continue from what the authorities know about this white brotherhood klan.
    Another of the twit's relatives quits while they are ahead.

    April 3, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  2. king

    the constant attack on the affordable care act for the past 3 years by the repubs is really getting tired. all they want is for the well off to get healthcare and the rest of us to seize to exist. they've done everything in their power to sabotage this law since its inception. yet this is the law that help brought this country from the pit of the abyss where the repubs trickle down policies sent us. instead of working for the American people and help perfect this law, their only will is to break it down. the American people are not stupid and they know what these repubs are doing, so the repubs might think they've got a winner in destroying this law, but the American people who are not drinking the fox cool aide might surprise them.

    April 3, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |