CNN: 'Like a nuclear bomb': Deadly fertilizer plant blast devastates Texas town
The full extent of the devastation will have to wait until the light of day Thursday. But residents of the small Texas town of West already know what to expect. "There are a lot of people that got hurt," West Mayor Tommy Muska forewarned Wednesday night. "There are a lot of people that will not be here tomorrow." A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant on the edge of the town killed at least two people, wounded more than 150, leveled dozens of homes and prompted authorities to evacuate half their community of 2,800. "It was a like a nuclear bomb went off," Muska said. "Big old mushroom cloud." The Wednesday night blast shook houses 50 miles away and measured as a 2.1-magnitude seismic event, according to the United States Geological Survey.
ALSO SEE: CNN: What is anhydrous ammonia?
Dallas Morning News: West fertilizer plant said in report that it presented no risk
The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show. West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals. But the report, reviewed Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated “no” under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.
CNN: Test results due in ricin scare; Mississippi man arrested
Test results were expected Thursday on letters possibly contaminated with the deadly poison ricin that were sent to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker this week. The FBI arrested Paul Kevin Curtis in connection with the case at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, on Wednesday, the department said in a statement. The letters, which were discovered on Tuesday, were addressed to Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, and to Obama. The justice department release said a third letter was sent to a Mississippi justice official. The letters to Wicker and Obama were stopped at a government mail-screening facility after initial tests indicated the presence of ricin. Because initial tests can be "inconsistent," the envelopes were sent off for additional tests, an FBI statement said.
CNN: Official: Two men sought as possible suspects in Boston bombing
Investigators have pinpointed two men as "possible suspects" who were seen in images near the finish line of this week's Boston Marathon - moments before twin bombs there exploded, killing three and injuring about 180 others - a law enforcement official said. A circular sent out Wednesday to federal and state agencies features the photos "in an attempt to identify the individuals," who were described as being of "high interest" to investigators. One of the men is seen carrying a black backpack. An FBI official earlier said that authorities believe the bombs were placed inside a black nylon backpack or bag. The source said that authorities had not yet identified the two men by name and that the photographs were not being released to the public for fear of impeding the investigation.
ALSO SEE: CNN: What we know about the Boston bombing and its aftermath
National Journal: How the Government Searches for the Boston Marathon Bomber
When FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers promised that “We will go to the ends of the Earth” to find the terrorists responsible for the bombing of the Boston Marathon and bring them to justice, he was not making an idle threat. The post-9/11 record strongly suggests that the U.S. authorities will indeed get their man. Inevitably, the tragic terrorist attack in Boston, coupled with reports that poison-laced letters have been sent to Congress and the White House, have recalled disturbing memories of 9/11. However, Wednesday’s news that authorities believe they already have video of the likely bomber, along with detailed forensic analysis of the type of bombs used, are reminders that law enforcement and intelligence officials have counterterrorism capabilities at their disposal today that would have been unthinkable before Sept. 11, 2001.
WSJ: As Its Own Marathon Approaches, Oklahoma City Proceeds Warily
The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon plans to proceed with its April 28 race. But following the Boston Marathon bombings Monday, there is no guarantee that the Oklahoma City race—an event dedicated to the victims of a terror attack—will take place. "Day by day, we're monitoring the intel we receive from the police and FBI," said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which launched the race in 2001 in honor of the 168 people killed and hundreds more injured in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. In honor of the three people killed in Boston, the Oklahoma City race plans to add three seconds to a traditional 168-second period of silence before the start of its race. As yet, federal and local law-enforcement officials "have detected no intelligence" hinting the Oklahoma race might be a target, said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
CNNMoney: America's jobs are moving to the suburbs
Despite a short reprieve during the recession, the number of jobs moving to the nation's suburbs grew over the last decade, potentially clogging roadways and reducing job access for the poor. Jobs within 3 miles of a city center fell from 24.5% of overall positions in 2000 to 22.9% in 2010, according to a report released Thursday from the Brookings Institution. During the same time, jobs in the outer suburbs - between 10 and 35 miles of a city's center - grew from 40.9% in 2000 to 43.1% in 2010. The recession halted the flight of jobs to the suburbs for a few years as industries like manufacturing, construction and retail - businesses that thrive in a city's outer regions - bore the largest brunt of layoffs. But by 2010, the suburbs accounted for nearly twice the share of jobs as city centers, continuing a trend that has been underway for decades.
CNN: Obama says he doesn't believe North Korea has nuclear missile
President Barack Obama has said he doesn't believe North Korea can fit a nuclear warhead on a missile, casting strong doubt on an alarming assessment disclosed last week by the Pentagon's intelligence arm. And he warned the young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that weeks of threats against the United States and South Korea had only served to isolate the regime further. CNN's full coverage on North Korea Asked in an NBC News interview whether North Korea could put a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile, Obama said, "Based on our current intelligence assessments, we do not think that they have that capacity."
CNN: Obama dines with Senate Democrats
Continuing his congressional outreach, President Barack Obama met with a dozen Democratic senators Wednesday night during the middle of week in which the issues of gun control and immigration reached crucial points on the legislative agenda. Dining at the Jefferson Hotel, Obama and the group had a “productive discussion about a range of issues,” including gun violence, immigration reform and the economy, according to a White House official. “The President and the Senators also discussed the explosions in Boston and the president reaffirmed that the full weight of the federal government is behind this investigation, which is being led by the FBI,” the official added.
ALSO SEE: The Hill: Obama in 'terrific form' during intimate dinner with Democratic senators
CNN: Senate rejects expanded gun background checks
In a major defeat for supporters of tougher gun laws, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons. The votes were on a series of amendments to a broad package of gun laws pushed by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre in December. However, fierce opposition by the powerful National Rifle Association led a backlash by conservative Republicans and a few Democrats from pro-gun states that doomed key proposals in the gun package, even after they had been watered down to try to satisfy opponents. After the votes, Obama angrily criticized the NRA and senators who voted against the expanded background checks for rejecting a compromise he said was supported by a strong majority of Americans.
WATCH: VIDEO – Brianna Keilar reports President Obama is blaming lies from the NRA and others for Background check bill failure.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Public opinion gets trumped in gun control defeat
CNN: Giffords on senators: 'Shame on them'
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords lambasted the 46 senators who voted against an ill-fated bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on firearms sales and vowed to continue her fight for tougher gun laws. "Speaking is physically difficult for me," Giffords wrote in a New York Times opinion piece published online after the Senate rejected the compromise on Wednesday. "But my feelings are clear: I'm furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done." Giffords, a Democrat, was seriously hurt in a 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded 13. She and her husband, Mark Kelly, have been vocal advocates for stricter gun laws since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
READ: Gabrielle Giffords Op-Ed in the NYT: A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip
CNN: Republicans say 'whistleblowers' with evidence on Benghazi attack located
Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have located individuals who have evidence about the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi Libya – ones whom they describe as whistleblowers – and are asking federal agencies to allow the witnesses to be able to share classified information with their attorneys without fear of retaliation. In letters to Mary McLeod, the principal deputy legal adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department; Stephen Preston, General Counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency; and Robert Taylor, acting General Counsel at the Pentagon, Congressman Darrell Issa, R-California, the chairman of the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform, requests clearance for attorneys "to possess and discuss Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI)" so that "attorneys representing witnesses in this matter can properly represent their clients and so witnesses can lawfully disclose sensitive or classified information to their attorneys."
Roll Call: Members Cough Up $4.3M for DCCC
House Democrats’ campaign arm raised an unprecedented $22.6 million in the first quarter of this year, thanks in large part to member contributions, committee officials say. According to fundraising figures provided to CQ Roll Call, $4.3 million, or 19 percent, of what the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised so far this year came directly from caucus dues. The committee flaunted individual totals in its regular dues tally, disseminated last week on Capitol Hill. The widely circulated spreadsheet tally serves as the committee’s report card for the caucus: It hails members who contribute and points out their colleagues who don’t.
NYT: Conservatives See a Turning Tide on Immigration
Hours after a bipartisan group of eight senators introduced a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, conservative radio talk show hosts took over two floors of a Capitol Hill hotel on Wednesday and denounced the proposal on the country’s drive-time airwaves as nothing more than a reward for lawbreakers. On a Florida station, WFTL, the host Joyce Kaufman called it “pure amnesty.” Jim Sharpe, a talk show host on KFYI in Phoenix, promised that “Arizonans are still not taking this sitting down.” On Denny Schaffer’s show in New Orleans, callers demanded deportations. “I see nothing wrong with putting them on a bus and shipping them back to wherever they came from,” a caller named Alan told Mr. Schaffer. “The law’s the law.” But even some of the talk show hosts most vehemently opposed to illegal immigration said they were worried that times have changed. They said their listeners seemed less agitated by the prospect that 11 million illegal immigrants might be granted legal status and concede that proponents of the legislation — who now include some conservative radio personalities — are better at promoting their message this time around.
BuzzFeed: Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum Star In NRA's Post-Gun Control Victory Lap
At least two potential 2016 Republican candidates will help the NRA celebrate their victory over President Obama and the gun control movement next month. Maybe three. Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry are scheduled to speak at the NRA's "Leadership Forum" May 3 in Houston, Texas. Also on the list of speakers is Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and John Bolton. The event, which costs $10 per ticket, is part of the NRA's first annual meeting since the group and its allies defeated gun control legislation in the Senate.
CNN: Romney to attend same Boston memorial as Obama
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will attend an interfaith service honoring those who suffered or lost their lives in the Boston bombing, two sources close to Romney confirmed. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are also scheduled to be at the event, the White House announced Tuesday. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who ran his presidential campaign from Boston, was invited to the service by the state’s current chief executive, Deval Patrick.
CNN: Hillary Clinton reacts to Boston bombing
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid tribute Wednesday to those who ran to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this week. In a speech at a Global Fund for Women anniversary gala in New York City, Clinton said such spirit of "volunteerism" is what "makes this country so unique." "I've been obsessed the last few days as I'm sure a number of you have been about the terrible violence and loss of life and injury in Boston," she said. "Like so many Americans and those watching around the world, we saw ordinary citizens alongside first responders rushing into danger to help. It was a tragic terrible day, but it seemed to exemplify what Patriots Day really means, because we do better when we work together. Women and men, all of us across every line that is used to divide us.
CNN: North Korea outlines exacting terms for talks with U.S., South Korea
North Korea on Thursday set out demanding conditions for any talks with Washington and Seoul, calling for the withdrawal of U.N. sanctions against it and a permanent end to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. The United States and South Korea "should immediately stop all their provocative acts against the DPRK and apologize for all of them," the North's National Defense Commission said in a statement carried by state-run media, using the shortened version of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The commission listed a number of "practical measures" it said the United States and South Korea should take if they want to avoid "sledge-hammer retaliatory blows of the army and people" of North Korea and if "they truly stand for dialogue and negotiations."
NYT: Top Obama Officials Differ on Syrian Rebels in Testimony to Congress
Sharply different perspectives within the Obama administration concerning the Syrian opposition emerged publicly on Wednesday when Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made separate appearances before Congress. In a long day of hearings, Mr. Kerry highlighted the opportunities in working with the opposition and stressed the need to step up the pressure on the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Hagel, joined by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that the Pentagon was moving to deliver medical supplies and food rations to that opposition. But highlighting the risks of deeper involvement in Syria, General Dempsey said the situation with the opposition had become more confused. The differing assessments came as the White House is considering what steps to take next in a conflict that has killed more than 70,000 and defied resolution.
CNN: U.S. military to step up presence in Jordan in light of Syria civil war
In a critical indication of growing U.S. military involvement in the civil war in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the deployment of more American troops to Jordan. Hagel announced the deployment, which was first reported on CNN, in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. He said the troops will work alongside Jordanian forces to "improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios." The troops, which will number up to 200, are from the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, two Defense Department officials told CNN.
CNN: Kerry on Benghazi: Let’s move on
Secretary of State John Kerry had a message for lawmakers he suggested were harping on the Obama administration’s response to the September 11 raid on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi: let’s move on. “Let’s get this done with, folks,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in his first appearance before Congress since taking office. “"I do not want to spend the next year coming up here talking about Benghazi." Seven months after the attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Kerry faced sharp questions from Republican lawmakers over security at the Benghazi facility leading up to the attack and in the immediate aftermath.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
Reuters: FAA nears decisive step in restoring 787 to flight
U.S. regulators are close to approving a key document that could start the process of returning Boeing Co's grounded 787 Dreamliner to service within weeks, according to several people familiar with the matter. Approval of the document, known as a Project Statement of Compliance, would mark a decisive step towards ending the three-month grounding of Boeing's high-tech jet. It would kick off a series of procedural steps allowing airlines that ordered the $200 million plane to fly them for the first time since January. The grounding has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million, halted deliveries and forced some airlines to lease alternative aircraft. Several airlines have said they will seek compensation from Boeing, potentially adding to the planemaker's losses.
CNN: Wife of former official charged with murder in Texas DA killing
The wife of a former justice of the peace in Texas is being held on murder charges in connection with the killings of Kaufman County District Attorney Michael McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, county officials announced Wednesday. Kim Lene Williams, 46, is also charged with murder in the death of prosecutor Mark Hasse. She is in jail, with bail set at $10 million. The Kaufman County jail website lists her as being booked about 3 a.m. Wednesday. The McLellands were killed in March, and Hasse was killed in January.
Sacramento Bee: Nevada buses hundreds of mentally ill patients to cities around country
Over the past five years, Nevada's primary state psychiatric hospital has put hundreds of mentally ill patients on Greyhound buses and sent them to cities and towns across America. Since July 2008, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas has transported more than 1,500 patients to other cities via Greyhound bus, sending at least one person to every state in the continental United States, according to a Bee review of bus receipts kept by Nevada's mental health division. …In recent years, as Nevada has slashed funding for mental health services, the number of mentally ill patients being bused out of southern Nevada has steadily risen, growing 66 percent from 2009 to 2012. During that same period, the hospital has dispersed those patients to an ever-increasing number of states.
New Jersey Star-Ledger: U.S. congressmen ask feds to review Christie's lottery privatization plan
New Jersey's six Democratic congressmen asked the U.S. Justice Department today to review the Christie administration's plan for a private company to take over parts of the New Jersey lottery, suggesting it might violate federal law. The state announced last week that it will soon enter into a 15-year contract with North Star New Jersey to oversee sales and marketing for the lottery. U.S. Representatives Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th Dist.), Rush Holt (D-12th Dist.), Rob Andrews (D-1st Dist.), Bill Pascrell (D-9th Dist.), Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.), and Albio Sires (D-8th Dist.) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for the Department of Justice to conduct a formal review of the plan.
Austin American Statesman: Witness says Zetas sent millions of dollars, hundreds of guns, through Texas
A former drug trafficker from Dallas testified Wednesday that he helped funnel about 300 assault rifles and fully automatic weapons to the Zetas, as the narco group battled with the Gulf Cartel for turf in Mexico more than five years ago. Jose Vasquez Jr. said he was supplied thousands of kilograms of cocaine by the criminal organization over nearly two years and that he pocketed $1.5 million a month or more in profits. Vasquez said a half-dozen people working for him bought the guns at Texas gun shows, mostly in the Dallas area. The firearms were then shipped south and traded for the drugs, Vasquez said. Vasquez Jr., who is serving time on drug charges, has been one of several Zetas associates to testify this week in the money laundering trial of five men accused of helping the Zetas filter their earnings from crime through the U.S. quarter horse industry.
Denver Post: Aurora theater shooting lawsuit clears major legal hurdle
Some victims and survivors of those killed in the Aurora theater massacre cleared a major legal hurdle Wednesday when a federal judge ruled their suits against Cinemark, the theater's owner, can go forward. U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson indicated that it wasn't an easy decision but said the 10 lawsuits pose questions of interpretation and application of law. "I suspect that many people, despite overwhelming sympathy and grief for the victims of the Aurora theater shootings, might upon hearing about these lawsuits have had reactions like, 'How could a theater be expected to prevent something like this?' " Jackson wrote. "I confess that I am one of those people." Jackson dismissed a claim of negligence but let stand a claim of wrongful death and another claim filed under Colorado's Premises Liability Act.
BBC: Israel ready to act on Syria weapons, warns Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the BBC that Israel has a right to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands in Syria. He said that if terrorists seized anti-aircraft and chemical weapons they could be "game changers" in the region. There have been growing calls for the international community to arm rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. But there is increasing concern that Islamist militants could use such weapons to further their own causes. Israel has said its policy is not to get involved in the Syrian conflict. But in recent months it has retaliated following Syrian fire into Israeli-controlled areas in the Golan Heights.
CNN: Al-Assad to Western nations: Syrian rebels will turn on you
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Western nations against supporting rebel groups battling his armed forces, predicting the militants will one day strike against the United States and others. In an hourlong interview with Syria state TV network al-Ikhbariya, al-Assad claimed the West is supporting al Qaeda sympathizers in Syria as he says they did during the Libyan uprising. He compared the support of rebels in Syria now to the backing of fighters in Afghanistan during their war with Soviet troops in the 1980s. "The West has paid heavily for funding al Qaeda in its early stages. Today it is doing the same in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price in the heart of Europe and the United States," he said, according to a CNN translation.
CNBC: Italy's Presidential Election Goes Down to the Wire
Italy's Presidential elections on Thursday will be the biggest indication of whether the country will have to return to the polls, as a failure to agree over the next president could only cement the political deadlock further. On Wednesday, center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani proposed the former Senate speaker Franco Marini as a presidential candidate. Marini is also backed by the head of the center-right alliance Silvio Berlusconi and outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, in a show of consensus between the political groups that hasn't been seen during the last few months. Italian lawmakers begin voting on a replacement for President Giorgio Napolitano, whose mandate expires on May 15, at 8:00 a.m. London time.
CNN: Deadly blasts, assassination strike Iraq before election
Four blasts in and around Baghdad killed at least three people and wounded 16 on Wednesday, police said. Violence has persisted in recent days in the lead-up to Iraq's provincial elections scheduled for Saturday. The latest attacks included a car bombing of an Iraqi army convoy, a car bombing near a police station, a roadside bomb that struck a politician's convoy and another roadside bomb, police say. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad released a statement on Tuesday condemning the ongoing violence, some of which has targeted people running for office.
CNN: Manual recount not possible in Venezuela, chief justice says
A manual recount of votes isn't possible in Venezuela, the head of the country's Supreme Court said Wednesday, suggesting there is no legal basis for the opposition's push for a ballot-by-ballot audit of the narrow presidential election results. In nationally televised remarks, Venezuelan Chief Justice Luisa Estella Morales said Venezuela's 1999 constitution eliminated manual recounts in favor of a "system audit." "In Venezuela the electoral system is completely automated. Therefore, a manual count does not exist. Anyone who thought that could really happen has been deceived," she said. "The majority of those who are asking for a manual count know it and are clear about it. Elections are not audited ballot by ballot but through the system."
ALSO SEE: NYT: Kerry Encourages Venezuela Recount
CNN: Pakistani court rejects Musharraf's bail, raising possibility of arrest
A Pakistani court has rejected bail for former President Pervez Musharraf, setting the stage for his possible arrest, his lawyer said Thursday. Surrounded by his security detail, Musharraf left the Islamabad High Court after it issued the decision, said lawyer Ahmed Raza Qasoori. Local television showed him walking through a large crowd outside the courthouse and getting into a black SUV to return to his villa. Musharraf resigned as president of the south Asian nation five years ago and went into exile in London and Dubai. He returned to Pakistan recently, saying he planned to contest three different court cases against him and run in upcoming elections. But earlier this week, Pakistani election officials barred him from running for a seat in parliament, a decision his lawyer said he would challenge in the Supreme Court.
CNN: China bird flu case count rises to 83
Another case of bird flu has been reported in China, taking the total infection count to 83 people, as health authorities inside and outside the country try to determine how to stop its spread. The most recent case was detected in a 38-year-old poultry trader in Henan province, according to state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua. Earlier, the World Health Organisation said an additional 19 cases were found in the eastern provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu as well as the city of Shanghai. Seventeen people have died from the H7N9 strain of the virus which, while common in birds, hadn't been detected in humans before the first cases were reported in March.
WSJ: Emerging Markets Put Stimulus Fears on G-20 Agenda
As finance officials and central bankers from the Group of 20 leading economies meet in Washington this week, delegates from emerging-market countries hope to address something that is both a boon and a danger to their economies: the stimulus policies of the world's big central banks. Fast-growing members of the G-20 know that those attempts to revive industrialized economies can have nasty side effects, having dealt with them since the global financial crisis began. Most recently, South Korea and China have indicated concerns that the stimulus measures taken by Japan this month have hurt their exports by weakening the yen and making imports more expensive in Japan.
NYT: Mortgage Relief Checks Go Out, Only to Bounce
When the bank account is running dry and the mortgage payment is coming due, the phrase “insufficient funds” is the last thing you want to hear. Now imagine hearing those two words when trying to cash a long-awaited check from the same bank that foreclosed on you. Many struggling homeowners got exactly that this week when they lined up to take their cut of a $3.6 billion settlement with the nation’s largest banks — lenders accused of wrongful evictions and other abuses. Ronnie Edward, whose home was sold in a foreclosure auction, waited three years for his $3,000 check. When it arrived on Tuesday, he raced to his local bank in Tennessee, only to learn that the funds “were not available.
Financial Times: Fears over weak earnings hit Apple
Apple investors’ nerves were rattled on Wednesday as concerns about falling earnings were compounded by poor results from a supplier and more criticism in the Chinese media. The iPhone maker is on Tuesday expected to report its first year-on-year decline in quarterly earnings for almost a decade, according to Wall Street estimates. Many analysts also forecast a drop for the financial year. The prospect of a sudden halt in growth, after earnings leapt 23 per cent in the year to September 2012, weighed heavily on Apple’s shares. They sank to a fresh 12-month low, falling 5.5 per cent to $402.80, after briefly dipping below $400 for the first time since 2011.