CNN: Police: Rockets land in southern Israel, no injuries
Two rockets landed in the southern Israeli city of Eilat on Wednesday, police said. "We are telling residents to immediately take cover and make their way to safe zones and shelters if they hear the sirens," Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said. There were no immediate reports of injuries after the rockets landed in a neighborhood and an open field.
CNN: FBI releases new details on Boston Marathon bombs
The second device, the agency said, was housed in a metal container, "but currently there is insufficient evidence to determine if it was also a pressure cooker," the bulletin said. The alert also said the fuzing system and method of initiation for the two devices are unknown. The two devices, which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, left three people dead and more than 180 injured. No suspects have been identified.
ALSO SEE: CNN: FBI will try to rebuild Boston bombs
CNN: Boston Marathon bombs have hallmarks of 'lone wolf' devices, experts say
The devices used in the Boston Marathon attack Monday are typical of the "lone wolf:" the solo terrorist who builds a bomb on his own by following a widely available formula. In this case, the formula seems very similar to one that al Qaeda has recommended to its supporters around the world as both crudely effective and difficult to trace. But it is also a recipe that has been adopted by extreme right-wing individuals in the United States. The threat of the "lone wolf" alarms the intelligence community. "This is what you worry about the most," a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. "No trail, no intelligence."
Boston Globe: IEDs called first multiple use on US soil
The Boston Marathon bombing marked a watershed moment that counterterrorism officials and specialists have dreaded for years: the use of multiple “improvised explosive devices,’’ or IEDs, to inflict mass casualties on US soil. Islamic militant groups routinely have used makeshift bombs — detonated nearly simultaneously — to kill civilian bystanders as well as military personnel from Iraq and Israel to Russia and Afghanistan. But until Monday’s explosions at the finish line in Copley Square, such street-level detonations targeting sidewalk or marketplace crowds had not occurred in the United States. …Just two months ago, the White House established an IED task force in the Department of Justice to apply lessons for domestic defense that have been learned from years of dealing with the phenomenon on foreign battlefields.
Bloomberg: Philadelphia Holds Closed Meeting With Wall Street
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, whose municipality has the lowest credit rating of the five most-populous U.S. cities, will address investors at a conference financed by underwriters and closed to the public and the press. The invitation bills tomorrow’s meeting as a chance to hear “Philadelphia leaders and investors discuss building the city’s future.” In addition to Nutter, a 55-year-old Democrat, speakers will include finance director Rob Dubow and Mark Gale, chief executive officer of Philadelphia International Airport, according to the agenda. Philadelphia is hoping to attract investors for the city, which is rated three steps above junk by Standard & Poor’s. The city and its authorities have $8.75 billion in outstanding debt as of September, according to bond documents. Philadelphia’s pension system is 47.6 percent funded this year, the documents say.
NYT: Seeking Gun or Selling One, Web Is a Land of Few Rules
The want ads posted by the anonymous buyer on Armslist.com, a sprawling free classified ads Web site for guns, telegraphed urgency. …The intentions and background of the prospective buyer were hidden, as is customary on such sites. The person posting these ads, however, left a phone number, enabling The New York Times to trace them to their source: Omar Roman-Martinez, 29, of Colorado Springs, who has a pair of felony convictions for burglary and another for motor vehicle theft, as well as a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction — all of which bar him from having guns. Yet he was so determined he even offered to trade a tablet computer or a vintage Pepsi machine for firearms.
CNN: Victim's daughter offers emotional testimony in trial of abortion doctor
When Yashodo Gurung left her mother's side at a West Philadelphia abortion clinic, she thought the 41-year-old woman was napping while she awaited her medical procedure. But now, as testimony Tuesday in the trial of the clinic's doctor indicated, Gurung wonders if maybe her mother was in fact dead when Gurung was asked by a staffer at the Women's Medical Society to return to the waiting room at the front of the clinic. "I thought she was peaceful and sleeping," the a 26-year-old Bhutanese refugee said through a translator, wiping her eyes with a tissue. Dr. Kermit Gosnell faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven babies and that of Gurung's mother, Karnamaya Mongar, of Virginia, who died of an anesthetic overdose during a second-trimester abortion.
CNN: White House threatens cybersecurity veto
The White House is threatening to veto a House cybersecurity bill unless changes are made to further safeguard privacy and civil liberties, and limit private-sector liability protections. Last week, the House Intelligence Committee approved and sent to the full House proposed legislation that would enhance data sharing between the government and private industry to help protect computer networks from cyber attacks. The committee amended the bill after consulting with the White House during its drafting, but the Obama administration is still not satisfied with some of its provisions.
Der Spiegel: Scheduled for June: Obama to Make First Berlin Visit as President
He's finally coming. SPIEGEL has learned that US President Barack Obama will make an official state visit to Berlin in June - just one week before the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. United States President Barack Obama has taken his time in making an official state visit to Berlin - but in about two months it will finally happen. According to current White House plans, he will visit the city directly after the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, which takes place on June 19 and 20, SPIEGEL has learned. The visit should finally iron out an ongoing crimp in German-American relations. It was a source of irritation in Berlin that, despite several personal invitations from Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama had not found time to come.
Baltimore Sun: Biden speaks about gun control at University of Baltimore event
Vice President Joe Biden, speaking Tuesday at an event in Baltimore, said he was unsure whether there is enough support in the Senate for what would be the biggest change to federal gun laws in decades. "We may not get it this week, but we will prevail," Biden said of the bill, which senators will vote on Wednesday. Sixty votes are needed to pass the measure. Police closed city streets and increased security at nearby Penn Station in anticipation of Biden's arrival at an event to preview the University of Baltimore's new law center. Biden said he considers Baltimore "the best city in America," cracked jokes, then turned solemn as he spoke about the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday and the shootings in December in Newtown, Conn., in which 26 people and the shooter died.
WaPo: Immigration measure’s opponents hope delays will kill bipartisan bill
Leading Capitol Hill opponents of a Senate proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration system are coalescing around a strategy to kill the bill by delaying the legislative process as long as possible, providing time to offer “poison pill” amendments aimed at breaking apart the fragile bipartisan group that developed the plan, according to lawmakers and legislative aides. The tactics, used successfully by opponents of an immigration bill during a 2007 debate in the Senate, are part of an effort to exploit public fissures over core components of the comprehensive legislation introduced Tuesday by eight lawmakers who spent months negotiating the details. The authors of the bill, which was expected to be filed Tuesday night, are planning to formally embrace it in a joint news conference as early as Wednesday, a move designed to build momentum for the plan. But conservative critics cautioned Tuesday that the legislative process must not be rushed.
NYT: Unlikely Friendships, Stalemates and a Pizza Apology
Senator Charles E. Schumer said he was blindsided. On March 31, after months of tense negotiations, a bipartisan group of eight senators hoping to overhaul the nation’s strained immigration system felt as if they were finally closing in on a deal. Mr. Schumer, a New York Democrat and member of the group, was preparing to go on the NBC program “Meet the Press” to hail the progress. Instead, a half-hour before Mr. Schumer was to appear, the office of Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican seen as a crucial member of the group, e-mailed a news release, its title in all capital letters: “No Final Agreement on Immigration Legislation Yet.”
CNN: Senate to start votes on gun bill
The U.S. Senate will begin voting on amendments to gun legislation on Wednesday, including the leading proposals for tighter restrictions spurred by the Connecticut school massacre in December. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the list of first votes would include the bipartisan yet controversial agreement on expanding background checks proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania. Also up in the first round will be Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to ban the sale of semiautomatic firearms modeled after military style assault weapons. President Barack Obama and many Democrats support a renewed assault weapons ban and an expansion of background checks as well as other measures before the Democratic-led Senate.
Las Vegas Sun: Heller’s no on background-checks bill may jeopardize gun control compromise
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller will vote against the Manchin-Toomey amendment on gun control, his office announced Tuesday afternoon. The announcement potentially seriously complicates Sen. Harry Reid’s efforts to get 60 senators to vote for what many have surmised is the best chance the Senate has to approve expanded background checks, an idea recent polls show has wide support — almost 90 percent — in the general populace. “I believe very strongly that our current background check system needs strengthening and improving, particularly in areas that could keep guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill,” Heller said in his announcement. “At the same time, I cannot support legislation that infringes upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
Chicago Tribune: Sen. Kirk to meet with Newtown parents
Sen. Mark Kirk, among the most active Republicans in the push for stricter gun control laws, plans to meet Wednesday with parents of some of the first-graders killed in the Newtown, Conn., massacre. The meeting was confirmed by an aide to the Illinois Republican and a spokesman for Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit created after the December shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six adults dead. Their meeting comes amid a push for the 60 votes needed for Senate passage of a measure to expand background checks to the sale of firearms at gun shows and on the Internet. Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, are fighting the measure.
WaPo: Facebook flexes political muscle with provision in immigration bill
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg generated international attention last week for his entry into Washington politics. In launching a new political group, he positioned himself as a leading advocate to help aspiring entrepreneurs and other ambitious immigrants achieve the American dream. Yet behind the scenes on Capitol Hill, Facebook lobbyists were engaged in another form of politics: pressing to insert a few new words helpful to Facebook’s business interests into a sprawling legislative proposal. The deft maneuvering came during the drafting of the new bipartisan Senate immigration proposal being released this week. It underscores the rising clout of a young company that is following the road paved by such technology forebears as Microsoft and Google, moving from indifference toward Washington to persistent, sophisticated engagement.
CNN: New York City Poll: Should Weiner run for mayor?
(Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner may seek political redemption by running this year for New York City mayor, but a new poll of city residents suggests many of them may not be ready to forgive him. If he does run though, an NBC New York-Marist Poll released late Tuesday night indicates Weiner would shake up the battle for the Democratic mayoral nomination. The congressman, who was in his seventh term representing parts of the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, resigned from the House in 2011 amid scandal over a lewd photo sent via Twitter. But he confirmed last week in an interview along with wife Huma Abedin, a close aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that he's considering a mayoral bid.
CNN: Sanford accused of trespassing on ex-wife's property
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who's now running as the Republican nominee in a special congressional election, has been ordered to appear in court two days after the May election over allegations that he trespassed at his ex-wife's home. Jenny Sanford confirmed a report about court documents she filed claiming she saw her ex-husband leaving her Sullivan's Island home on Feb. 3, roughly three weeks after he announced his bid for Congress.
CNN: Kelly says he’d work to defeat a friend, Sen. Flake, if need be
Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, said he might use their gun control advocacy group to work toward the ouster of Sen. Jeff Flake in 2018 if the Republican senator from Arizona votes against firearm legislation. Flake, a former U.S. congressman, and Giffords are known as longtime friends, Kelly said. "You know friendship is one thing … saving people's lives, especially first-graders', is another," Kelly said at a Washington breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Financial Times:North Korea rejects US call for talks
Pyongyang has rebuffed Washington’s call for talks to ease the recent escalation in tensions on the Korean peninsula, and accused the US of portraying it as an aggressor while threatening North Korea with nuclear weapons. Late on Tuesday, North Korean state media quoted a foreign ministry official saying that Mr Kerry’s remarks were “a crafty ploy to evade the blame for the tension on the eve of a war”, and that Pyongyang could only engage in “genuine dialogue” once it had developed its own nuclear deterrent.
WSJ: Washington Urged to Hold Two-Way Talks With Tehran
The U.S. should change its approach on Iran by holding two-way talks and offering to ease punitive sanctions in exchange for nuclear concessions, according to a bipartisan group that has drawn support in the past from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. A report on Wednesday by the Iran Project, which is backed by a group of former diplomats, military officers and lawmakers, will recommend the U.S. promise to lighten sanctions if Iran reduces stockpiles of enriched uranium and provides other concessions. "Here is an option that really ought to be looked at before you move to military force," said veteran U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering. "The negotiation track should be made as robust and forward leading as the pressure track has been up until now."
Bloomberg: Pentagon Seeks $220 Million for Israel’s Iron Dome System
The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency for the first time in its regular annual budget contains funds to buy additional Iron Dome missile defense systems for Israel, according to documents and an agency spokesman. The money, if approved during the annual defense budget process, would be on top of $486 million the White House and Congress have requested or added for the system in recent years after formal budgets were submitted. This includes $211 million added in the defense appropriations bill for this year, which President Barack Obama signed into law last month.
WSJ: U.S. Fears Syria Rebel Victory, for Now
Senior Obama administration officials have caught some lawmakers and allies by surprise in recent weeks with an amended approach to Syria: They don't want an outright rebel military victory right now because they believe, in the words of one senior official, that the "good guys" may not come out on top. Administration officials fear that with Islamists tied to al Qaeda increasingly dominating the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, too swift a rebel victory would undercut hopes for finding a diplomatic solution, according to current and former officials. It would also shatter national institutions along with what remains of civil order, these people say, increasing the danger that Syrian chemical weapons will be used or transferred to terrorists. This assessment complicates the White House's long-standing push to see President Assad step from power.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: Envelope tests positive for ricin at Washington mail facility
An envelope that tested positive for the deadly poison ricin was intercepted Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Capitol's off-site mail facility in Washington, congressional and law enforcement sources tell CNN. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was told the letter was addressed to the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. A laboratory in Maryland confirmed the presence of ricin after initial field tests indicated the poison was present, according to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer. However, the FBI said additional testing is needed as field and preliminary tests produce inconsistent results.
ALSO SEE: CNN: What is ricin?
CNN: American Airlines grounds flights nationwide due to glitch
American Airlines grounded flights nationwide on Tuesday due to problems over several hours with its computerized reservation system. The decision also resulted its regional affiliate, American Eagle, holding flights at Dallas Ft. Worth, Chicago's O'Hare and New York LaGuardia - all major airports for the carrier's domestic operations. The glitch caused big delays and flight cancellations for the company, which sought court approval on Monday to exit bankruptcy. It plans to merge with US Airways. American CEO Tom Horton apologized the customers in a video Tuesday evening, saying that the glitch was "a software issue impacting both primary and backup systems."
WSJ: Scalia Calls Voting Act A 'Racial Preferment'
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told university students that key provisions of the Voting Rights Act had evolved from an emergency response to racial discrimination in 1965 to an "embedded" form of "racial preferment" that would likely continue indefinitely unless the court acts to end them. Justice Scalia, speaking Monday night at the University of California Washington Center, elaborated on remarks he made in February during Supreme Court arguments over the act's Section 5, which requires states and localities that historically discriminated against minority voters to obtain federal approval to change election procedures. Section 5 functions as a racial entitlement because the federal government doesn't take a similar interest in protecting the voting rights of white people from racial discrimination, Justice Scalia said.
Miami Herald: FBI report: Florida family had ties to people linked to 9/11 attacks
A Saudi family who “fled” their Sarasota area home weeks before 9/11 had “many connections” to “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001,” according to newly released FBI records. One partially declassified document, marked “secret,” lists three of those individuals and ties them to the Venice, Fla., flight school where suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi trained. Accomplice Ziad Jarrah took flying lessons at another school a block away. Atta and al-Shehhi were at the controls of the jetliners that slammed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, killing nearly 3,000 people. Jarrah was the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
Seattle Times: FAA revisits 787’s OK for lengthy overwater flights
The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing its approval for the Boeing 787 to fly up to three hours’ distance from the nearest airport, raising the possibility the jet’s routing may be constrained once the agency lifts the grounding of the Dreamliner fleet. Such a restriction would further damage the plane’s reputation and prevent airlines from taking full advantage of the jet’s ultralong range on routes across the poles or vast tracts of ocean. Some longer 787 flights, such as All Nippon Airways service between San Jose, Calif., and Tokyo, might have to use less direct routes that stick closer to continental coastlines and use more fuel. FAA chief Michael Huerta revealed the review Tuesday in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee hearing on aviation safety.
Hartford Courant: Newtown Charities Raise $20.4 Million, Reveal Plans For Cash
More than 40 charitable groups, many formed following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, have collected nearly $20.4 million since the Dec. 14 shooting, with about 15 percent of the money being distributed, the attorney general's office said Tuesday. In an effort to get a handle on how much money had been collected, the attorney general's office and state Department of Consumer Protection sent a survey to more than 70 charities identified as raising money following the slaying of 20 first-graders and six women. Officials wanted to know how much money they raised, what they planned to use it for and whether any of it was going to the victims' families. The responses showed that about $3 million has been distributed to a wide variety of causes.
Richmond Times Dispatch: McAuliffe’s top donors from other states; RGA, prominent conservatives aid Cuccinelli
Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign claimed that 72 percent of his donations came from Virginia donors. But only one of his top 15 donors in the year’s first quarter listed a Virginia address — LISCR, Inc., a shipping management company that is located in Virginia, donated $60,000 last quarter. McAuliffe’s top numbers also reflect heavy support from unions, with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Teachers; International Association of Fire Fighters; and the Communications Workers of America chipping in more than $500,000. Former President Bill Clinton, a best buddy of McAuliffe’s, also chipped in $100,000.
Dallas Morning News: Rick Santorum compares conservatives to British Redcoats in battle with liberals
Former presidential contender Rick Santorum said Tuesday that conservatives are losing the battle against their liberal counterparts, partly because the left is more energized. He compared his party to the British army that had dominated the world stage before losing the Revolutionary War to a scrappier force of Americans. “In some respects we’ve become the Redcoats in America,” Santorum said during a luncheon sponsored by Behind Every Door, a local group that advocates for urban communities. “There’re people who want to change us, and they’re winning.”
The Detroit News: Federal sequester prompts DMC to lay off 300, cut top executives' pay
Detroit — The Detroit Medical Center is laying off 300 non-medical employees, cutting the salaries of its top executives and making other cuts as a result of the federal sequestration, CEO Joe Mullany announced Tuesday afternoon. In a letter to employees, physicians and board members, Mullany said the DMC is facing a revenue shortfall as a result of the 2 percent sequestration of Medicare funds and further reductions in payments from the state Medicaid program to hospitals. "DMC needs to address the magnitude of the financial shortfall this year and in the next several years, finding expense reductions equal to our anticipated revenue reductions," Mullany said. Hospitals, doctors, graduate medical education programs, health insurers and prescription drug plans are expected to be pinched as Medicare cuts are implemented over the coming weeks and months. The White House estimates the Medicare cuts will total $11 billion.
NYT: Belgian Police Arrest 6 on Charges of Recruiting for Syrian Insurgency
The authorities in Belgium raided 48 homes nationwide on Tuesday and detained six men implicated in what prosecutors described as a jihadist recruitment drive for the insurgency in Syria, where an increasingly international array of rebels is fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad. The raids, the result of an investigation that began last year, reflected Syria’s growing allure to militant Islamist fighters who see Syria as a prime battleground. The foreign jihadist element in the insurgency has alarmed Western powers that want to see Mr. Assad step down but do not want him replaced by an Islamist militant government or stateless mayhem.
CNN: Tensions mount after tight Venezuelan vote; government says 7 killed in post-election violence
The sounds of clanking pots and pans and bursting fireworks rang out in Caracas on Tuesday night as tensions mounted over Venezuela's tight election results. It was a clear sign that days after Sunday's presidential vote, fierce political battles are far from over in the deeply divided country. Supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski banged pots and pans to protest the government's refusal to recount the votes, while supporters of President-elect Nicolas Maduro set off fireworks to celebrate his victory and drown out the noise. Maduro, former President Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor, is scheduled to be sworn in on Friday.
CNN: 4-year-old bird flu 'carrier' worries China
Doctors say the discovery of a 4-year-old carrier of the H7N9 bird flu virus who shows no symptoms of the potentially lethal virus is a worrying development that could make the spread of the infection more difficult to monitor. The Beijing Municipal Health Bureau said the boy was detected from a group of close contacts of the first infection in Beijing and the laboratory results showed the boy was an asymptomatic carrier of the disease. The boy emerged after authorities screened 24 poultry owners in Naidong Village, Cuigezhuang County in Chaoyang District, taking throat swabs of those in contact with the group. The report said the boy's parents were engaged in poultry and fish trading.
CNN: Road side bomb kills 7 in Afghanistan
A road side bomb killed seven civilians and wounded four others Wednesday in western Afghanistan's Herat province, police said. The civilians were on a truck headed to the center of the Shindand district in the province, said Herat police spokesman Noor Khan Nekzad. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but officials blamed Taliban militants.
CNN: 15 slain in Pakistani suicide bombing
At least 15 people in Pakistan were killed in a suicide bombing Tuesday targeting an anti-Taliban political party, hospital and police officials said. The incident took place in Peshawar. It comes as the country gets ready to hold elections next month. A bomber blew himself up when Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, senior vice president of the Awami National Party, got out of a car. Bilour's driver and two police officials were killed, police said. Bilour's brother was assassinated last year. Along with the dead, at least 35 people were injured.
CNN: Casualties mount in Pakistan quake
The casualty count from a powerful earthquake that struck near Pakistan's border with Iran now stands at 35 dead and more than 150 wounded, authorities said Wednesday. The quake struck Tuesday in Balochistan province, destroying more than 150 mud houses, the National Disaster Management Authority said. On the Iranian side, the quake injured a dozen people, authorities said.
CNN: Britain prepares to bid farewell to its 'Iron Lady,' Margaret Thatcher
Amid pomp and ceremony, Britain will say its final farewell Wednesday to Margaret Thatcher - its first female prime minister and a politician who even in death divides public opinion. More than 2,000 mourners, Queen Elizabeth II and serving UK Prime Minister David Cameron among them, will join Thatcher's family at St. Paul's Cathedral in London to pay their respects. A raft of foreign dignitaries will attend the service, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and F.W. de Klerk, the last apartheid-era president of South Africa. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will also be there.
Reuters: Exclusive: Cerberus founder explores bid for Bushmaster gunmaker
Private equity mogul Stephen Feinberg may bid for the Bushmaster rifle maker that his firm Cerberus Capital Management LP put up for sale after one of its guns was used in a Connecticut school shooting, three sources familiar with the situation said. Feinberg, along with other senior Cerberus partners, is putting together a consortium to make a "stalking horse" offer designed to spur competition for Freedom Group, which makes the Bushmaster rifle, the sources said on Tuesday. Cerberus is under pressure from the public as well as investors in its funds to sell Freedom Group following the massacre that took place in December in Newtown, Connecticut. A bid by Feinberg for a company that his own firm owns would be a rare move in the private equity industry.
WSJ: IMF Renews Push Against Austerity
Seeking to keep a fragile global recovery on track, the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday called on countries that can afford it—including the U.S. and Britain—to slow the pace of their austerity measures. The fund warned that "overly strong" belt-tightening in the U.S. will slow growth this year. Across-the-board government spending cuts, known as the sequester, were the "wrong way" to shrink the budget deficit, it said in its semiannual report on economic growth. Those cuts should be replaced by more targeted reductions that would take effect further down the road—after the economy gains more strength, the report said.