CNN: Boston bombing suspect on the loose, police say
Violence terrorized Bostonians overnight, and police believe two suspects involved are the same men who allegedly planted bombs that killed three in the Boston Marathon Monday. One was shot dead early Friday, and the other is still on the loose, authorities said. One of the men, "suspect number 2" in Monday's bombing, is still at large in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where dozens of officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have fanned out to track him down, said transit police spokesman Paul MacMillan. He is believed to be armed and dangerous. Police warned residents to lock their homes and stay away from their windows and doors.
CNN: Hospital, homes evacuated amid flood threats in Illinois, elsewhere
Record-setting rains in parts of the Midwest have caused hundreds of flight cancellations and flooding, with one northern Illinois hospital evacuating patients due to rising floodwaters. Forty-four patients were removed Thursday from Morris Hospital in Morris, Illinois, due to the threat of rising floodwaters from the nearby Illinois River that had already soaked the two-story facility's ground floor, said hospital spokeswoman Janet Long. Of those, 27 were transferred to other hospitals and 17 ended up going home or back to their nursing homes. The evacuation was precautionary, Long said, adding that the hospital's emergency department will remain open Friday - when the Illinois River is expected to crest around 7 a.m.
CNN: Search for answers after deadly Texas explosion
A day after a fiery explosion ripped through the heart of a close-knit central Texas town, many questions remain. What caused the blast, so deafening its ground motion registered as an earthquake? How many people died and how many were pulled from the charred rubble alive? And how many remain unaccounted for? Was it the result of criminal activity? Despite the flurry of questions, one thing is certain. The effect on the small town of West - population 2,800 - is massive.
ALSO SEE: LA Times: Texas fertilizer disaster: Willie Nelson to hold benefit concert
WSJ: Parents of China Victim Get U.S. Visas
U.S. officials issued visas Thursday to the parents of Lu Lingzi, the Chinese student killed Monday in the Boston Marathon bombing. People in her hometown said the family was struggling with the loss of its only child. The U.S. Embassy granted the parents of Lu Lingzi, one of the three victims in the Boston Marathon bombing, visas for immediate entry. The WSJ’s Carlos Tejada talks about how the story of Ms. Lu’s death unfolded on the Chinese Web. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued visas to the parents of the deceased victim from Shenyang as well as to the parents of a second Chinese student injured during the bombing, an embassy spokesman said. U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke has spoken with the families to express condolences, the spokesman said. The embassy didn't identify the victims or families by name, citing their requests for privacy.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Obama consoles grieving Bostonians, says we'll 'finish the race'
Bloomberg: Boston Bombing Victim in Iconic Photo Helped Identify Attackers
Just before 3 p.m. on April 15, Bauman was waiting among the crowd for his girlfriend to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. A man wearing a cap, sunglasses and a black jacket over a hooded sweatshirt looked at Jeff, 27, and dropped a bag at his feet, his brother, Chris Bauman, said in an interview. Two and a half minutes later, the bag exploded, tearing Jeff’s legs apart. A picture of him in a wheelchair, bloodied and ashen, was broadcast around the world as he was rushed to Boston Medical Center. He lost both legs below the knee. “He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,’” Chris Bauman said yesterday in an interview.
CNN: Philadelphia doctor performed illegal late-term abortions, ex-employee testifies
A former medical assistant testified Thursday that she saw more than 10 babies born alive at the West Philadelphia abortion clinic where she worked for a doctor who is now on trial for murder. Kareema Cross also saw babies or fetal remains in a toilet, a plastic box and jars, she told the court in the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with eight counts of murder. He is accused of killing seven babies after allegedly performing illegal late-term abortions and Karnamaya Mongar, 41, who died of an anesthetic overdose during a second-trimester abortion. He has pleaded not guilty. Gosnell's defense attorney Jack McMahon has maintained that none of the infants was killed; rather, they were already dead because Gosnell had administered the abortion drug Digoxin. Cross, 28, who stopped working at the clinic in 2009 when she gave birth to a child, reported Gosnell to authorities using the name of a relative, she said.
Politico: Behind the Curtain: Obama, boxed in
There are two very different President Obamas. There’s the confident, uncompromising Obama who sought to shame and bully Republicans into submitting to his agenda of tax increases and sweeping gun reform. This version of Obama was dominant until one month ago. Then there’s the calmer, more compromising Obama — the one who has courted Republicans and taken on his own party with a call for (modest) reductions in entitlement spending. This version of Obama took command last month. Both are flailing.
CNN: Gun bill’s withdrawal in Senate dims hopes for House bill
After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he was pulling the gun legislation bill, the odds that any new restrictions on guns would move in the Republican-led House shifted from slim to virtually none. "Right now it doesn't look good," New York Republican Rep. Peter King told CNN, summing up the chances that his bill – identical to the bipartisan compromise developed in the Senate expanding background checks for many gun sales – could pass in the House. After the Senate bill – pushed by pro-gun rights Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania – along with measures banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines all failed to pass on Wednesday, Reid said he’s taking a pause and shelving gun legislation for the time being.
CNNMoney: Bowles and Simpson detail $2.5 trillion deficit reduction plan
The deficit duo of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson will try again on Friday to get Democrats and Republicans to hold hands and make tough choices on the nation's debt. They're releasing details of a proposed $2.5 trillion deficit reduction plan, which they originally outlined in February. Bowles and Simpson were co-chairmen of President Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission in 2010, and their plan at the time was criticized by both liberals and conservatives. The new plan is smaller in scope and seeks to build on the $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction that the White House and Congress have agreed to since 2010.
Roll Call: Gun Debate Reveals Pitfalls of Filibuster Overhaul
The Senate defeated several amendments that Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, supported, including the background check agreement. This week’s floor votes on guns show how different the Senate world might look without filibuster threats — for better or for worse. Proponents of changing the Senate rules used Wednesday’s vote on expanding background checks for gun purchases as the latest sign that the chamber should curtail the filibuster rules, but other votes showed simple majorities in favor of a host of provisions those same senators oppose. President Barack Obama raised the rules question in his remarks in the Rose Garden shortly after the Senate rejected a background check compromise, despite the fact that 54 lawmakers voted in favor of a compromise on expanded checks championed by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III and Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey.
CNN: Sanford massively outspent on TV in South Carolina
Mark Sanford's besieged congressional campaign is being outspent almost 3-1 on the television airwaves by his Democratic foes, a media-buying source tracking the South Carolina House campaign told CNN. Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch and allied groups have spent well over half a million dollars to date on broadcast and cable ads in the Charleston and Savannah media markets, which blanket South Carolina's First Congressional District. Sanford and the South Carolina Republican Party have spent just a fraction of that total on television spots, the media-buying source said. No outside GOP organizations or conservative groups have booked airtime in the district.
WaPo: Anheuser-Busch heir leaves NRA over gun bill
Adolphus Busch IV, an heir in the Anheuser-Busch beer-making family, has reportedly resigned from the National Rifle Association over the NRA’s “distorted values” in the recently concluded gun control debate. “The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established,” Busch wrote in a letter obtained by KSDK-TV in St. Louis. “Your current strategic focus places a priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.
Politico: Marco Rubio ‘amnesty’ sparks radio static
Sen. Marco Rubio tried to sell his immigration plan on Thursday to conservative talk radio hosts gathered from around the country in D.C., but it just didn’t fly. Rubio sat down for interviews with four right-wing talkers at the Federation of American Immigration Reform’s annual immigration “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row in Washington — and each said they were not convinced by the senator’s pitch. As in 2007, when conservative talk show hosts helped mobilize opposition to immigration reform and blasted it as an amnesty program, local radio talkers have proven they can turn the tide against legislation. And with Rubio’s conservative media blitz on Thursday, it’s clear he knows it would help the outcome of the bill to get this crowd on his side. But that didn’t happen today, the hosts said.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Rubio's rapid response to immigration reform critics
NYT: U.S. Arms Deal With Israel and 2 Arab Nations Is Near
The Defense Department is expected to finalize a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week that will provide missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran. A weeklong visit to the region by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will culminate a year of secret negotiations on a deal that Congressional officials said will be second only to the $29.5 billion sale of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia announced in 2010. But the delicate balancing act that was necessary in weighing the differing interests of each nation made it among the most complex ever negotiated.
WSJ: U.S. Probes New Syria Weapons Allegations
American intelligence agencies are reviewing what some officials see as the first credible indications that Syrian forces used small amounts of chemical weapons in recent fighting, senior U.S. and European officials said. Four senior U.S. officials cited "increasing suspicions" within U.S. intelligence circles that Syrian forces have used chemical agents, based on witness accounts and preliminary testing of samples that were recently taken from Syria and initially analyzed by British experts. A senior United Nations diplomat said Britain and France have "hard evidence" that chemical weapons were used in at least one case. France and Britain have presented their evidence to the U.N. and the U.S. in recent weeks, diplomats and U.S. officials said.
NYT: North Korea Tones Down Language, Giving Hope for Dialogue
By North Korean standards, the invective issued over the past week has bordered on civil. Instead of near daily threats of nuclear annihilation for the “nest of evil” in the United States and promises to “press the button,” the North in recent days has grumbled over a “crafty ploy” and “cunning trick” by America and its allies to strip the North of its nuclear arsenal. The United States and South Korea, meanwhile, have made a change of their own: putting a new focus on offering talks after weeks of meeting North Korean provocations with harsh warnings that included deploying nuclear-capable stealth bombers on a practice run over South Korea. Security analysts in South Korea and the United States expressed cautious optimism this week that the shift in tone, however understated, is a sign that after weeks of escalating threats that raised fears of armed conflict, both sides might be ready to calm tensions.
CNN: US intel works on new North Korea nuke assessment
The intelligence community is working on a new assessment of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile program, according to the nation's top intelligence official. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced the broad effort during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday. He sought to set the record straight following controversy over a Pentagon intelligence assessment of Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities that surfaced unexpectedly last week amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: FBI confirms letters to Obama, others contained ricin
The FBI said Thursday it confirmed the presence of the deadly poison ricin in letters sent to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a judge. Earlier, an Elvis impersonator charged in the case appeared in federal court in Oxford Mississippi. During a four-minute hearing, Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander ordered Paul Kevin Curtis - who appeared in court with attorney Christi McCoy - to remain in custody until a grand jury issues an expected indictment and a preliminary and detention hearing on April 29.
CNN: Coming soon to an airport near you: Flight delays
Fliers beware. As soon as Monday, travelers nationwide could face flight delays because of the federal spending cuts, with delays averaging 10, 20, and 30 minutes at major hub airports during peak periods, but soaring on days when controller furloughs force airports to shut down runways. In those infrequent circumstances, delays could exceed an hour at Los Angeles International and hit three-and-a-half hours at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, top federal transportation officials warned. And those delays, long as they are, could grow longer if compounded by bad weather or equipment failures, officials said.
CNNMoney: IRS employees charged with stealing benefits, food stamps
When it comes to cheating the U.S. government, some federal employees seem to know a thing or two about how it's done. Twenty-four former and current IRS employees have been indicted for allegedly claiming they were unemployed in order to receive jobless benefits, food stamps, welfare payments and housing vouchers while they were employed at the IRS. In total, the rogue employees received more than $250,000 in government benefits, according to a Justice Department statement released Thursday.
WaPo: Donor gave McDonnell and family a lake-house vacation
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell took a lake-house vacation in 2011 courtesy of the same major campaign donor who paid for the food at the wedding of the governor’s daughter that summer. When the July vacation ended, the McDonnell family borrowed a Ferrari owned by Star Scientific’s chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for the three-hour ride back to Richmond. The model had a retail price of $190,000. McDonnell’s spokesman said the governor and his family have taken a vacation at Smith Mountain Lake near Roanoke every summer since he took office in 2010 — each time as a gift from a donor.
CNN: Official: Venezuela will audit 100% of election results
Venezuela's top election official said Thursday that authorities will complete a 100% audit of votes cast in Sunday's presidential election. Tibisay Lucena, president of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, said officials decided on the audit after a lengthy debate. Officials had already audited 54% of ballot boxes, and now will audit the remaining 46%, she said. The decision comes after opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski filed complaints with election officials about thousands of alleged violations during Sunday's vote.
CNN: In latest legal blow, Pakistani court confines Musharraf to his home
A day after he made a swift exit from an Islamabad court when a judge revoked his bail, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appeared before a magistrate on Friday and was formally placed under house arrest. The development is the latest setback to Musharraf since the former military ruler returned to Pakistan last month to fight a series of court cases against him and re-enter the country's turbulent political scene by seeking to run in upcoming elections. His arrest also highlights the increased willingness of Pakistan's judiciary, who clashed with Musharraf during his time in power, to pursue cases against high-profile figures previously considered to be untouchable. No former Pakistani army chief has previously been arrested and detained.
WSJ: U.N. Seeks Funds to Stem Refugee Crisis
The United Nations is unable to cope with an exploding Syrian refugee crisis that could see 3.5 million Syrians fleeing the country by the end of the year unless urgent appeals for more than $1 billion are met, the chief of the U.N.'s refugee agency said Thursday. Since February, 8,000 people a day have been crossing Syria's borders, bringing the total of registered refugees to nearly 1.4 million, Antonio Guterres, the high-commissioner for refugees, told the international body's Security Council. Less than half that many were fleeing in December, he said. A quarter of Syria's 22.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes because of the two-year-old civil war, including those who have fled the violence but remain in the country, Mr. Guterres said.
Jerusalem Post: Olmert: Israel has quietly prevented a nuclear Iran
Israel has been quietly active over a long period in preventing Tehran from achieving its nuclear aims, former prime minister Ehud Olmert revealed recently to The Jerusalem Post in an interview ahead of next weekend’s second annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York City. “We did many things quietly over a long period of time that certainly helped prevent the Iranians from achieving this capacity long ago, but the effort must be led with the United States and the international community,” said Olmert, who will be the keynote speaker at the conference on April 28, as he was at the inaugural conference last year. “I think it can be done, I think it ought to be done, and I think we must not forget that, with all due respect to our enormous military power, acting together with America and the Europeans and others will make it much easier for us to contribute to the end of this effort made by Iran, and this is the way we have to choose,” he said.
Financial Times: UK and IMF face dust-up on austerity
George Osborne is to go toe-to-toe with the International Monetary Fund next month in a battle over the credibility of his Plan A on austerity for the UK, amid signs that incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney will be a key ally in his fight. The chancellor is said by aides to be prepared to “aggressively” defend his policies when an IMF team arrives in London to make an annual assessment of the British economy, and is prepared to defy their recommendations if necessary. Mr Osborne fears that an anti-austerity faction is winning an internal IMF power struggle and that the Fund will hand the opposition Labour party a propaganda tool by formally urging him to relax his fiscal plans.
Reuters: Blackstone ends pursuit of Dell: sources
Blackstone Group LP has ended its pursuit of Dell Inc, three people familiar with the matter said on Thursday, easing the way for founder Michael Dell and his private equity partner Silver Lake to go ahead with a $24.4 billion deal to acquire the world's No. 3 PC maker. New York-based Blackstone pulled out just a month after it first launched a challenge to the billionaire's attempt to take private the PC maker he founded. Blackstone withdrew citing an unprecedented 14 percent drop in industry PC sales in the first quarter of 2013 and a lower earnings forecast by the Dell's management, which saw operating income dropping from $3.7 billion to $3 billion in the current fiscal year, one of the sources said.
WSJ: Domestic-Based Multinationals Hiring Overseas
Multinational companies based in the U.S. boosted their global work forces in 2011 almost entirely by hiring workers overseas, underscoring the slow growth in the U.S. job market. American multinationals increased their worldwide employment by 1.5% to 34.5 million workers in 2011, according to new estimates released Thursday by the Commerce Department. The companies' employment in the U.S. rose by just 0.1% to 22.9 million workers in a year when total private employment in the U.S. rose 1.8%. Their overseas employment increased 4.4% to 11.7 million. The paltry hiring at home reflects where multinational companies are focusing their attention. Stronger economic growth in overseas markets in Asia and Latin America is driving their expansion, reinforcing their shift toward cheaper labor or closer access to customers.