CNN Washington AM Note
April 24th, 2013
06:39 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: Site of Boston blasts to reopen as officials try to interview suspects' parents

Nine days after Boylston Street turned into bloody field of carnage, the area will reopen to public foot traffic Wednesday. It's another sign Boston is recovering from the twin bombings that killed three and wounded hundreds more. Also Wednesday, mourners will gather to honor Massachusetts Institute of Technology Officer Sean Collier, who authorities say was fatally shot by the bombers last week. The memorial service will take place on the MIT campus. And as more details slowly emerge from the bedridden suspect, U.S. officials were traveling to Dagestan to interview the parents of the suspected bombers.

ALSO SEE: NBC: Search of Tsarnaevs' phones, computers finds no indication of accomplice, source says

ALSO SEE: CBS: Police believe Tsarnaev brothers killed officer for his gun

ALSO SEE: WSJ: Legal Teams Both Have Terror-Case Experience

CNN: Bombing suspect's uncle: Friend in Cambridge 'brainwashed him completely'

The evolution of Tamerlan Tsarnaev from aspiring Olympic boxer to apparent self-radicalized jihadist may have been influenced by a friend in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "It started (in) 2009. And it started right there, in Cambridge," Tsarnaev's uncle Ruslan Tsarni told CNN's Shannon Travis. "This person just took his brain. He just brainwashed him completely." Tsarni would not identify his nephew's friend. But he was so concerned about the acquaintance that he called a family friend in the area to investigate.

ALSO SEE: USA Today: Mosque that Boston suspects attended has radical ties

 

CNN: Bombing suspect not on terror watch list

Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was not on a terrorism watch list or a "no-fly" list when he traveled to Russia last year, a federal law enforcement official told CNN on Tuesday. The source, who spoke on condition of not being identified, noted the FBI found no suspicions of terrorist ties when it interviewed Tsarnaev and his family members and friends in 2011 after Russia asked U.S. authorities for information on the immigrant from the Caucasus region. Because the United States "never deemed him a threat," Tsarnaev "was not on a terror watch list or any 'no-fly' list," according to the official. The information added to questions over the FBI's handling of Tsarnaev, 26, the older of two brothers accused of setting off two bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260 others near the finish line of last week's Boston Marathon.

ALSO SEE: Boston Globe: Russia contacted US government ‘multiple’ times on concerns about alleged Boston Marathon bomber

WATCH: VIDEO – The Russian government alerted the FBI in 2011 to concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Joe Johns reports on the response.

Reuters: Boston bomb suspect's name was on classified government watch lists

The name of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was listed on the U.S. government's highly classified central database of people it views as potential terrorists. But the list is so vast that this did not mean authorities automatically kept close tabs on him, sources close to the bombing investigation said on Tuesday. … The sources said Tamerlan Tsarnaev's details were entered into TIDE, a database maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, because the FBI spoke to him in 2011 while investigating a Russian tip-off that he had become a follower of radical Islamists.

Boston Herald: Tamerlan Tsarnaev got Mass. welfare benefits

Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned. State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.

ALSO SEE: Boston Globe: Tsarnaev brothers appeared to have scant finances

CNN: Source: 2011 slayings of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's friend, 2 others revisited

The slaying of one of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's best friends in September 2011 is now being reviewed by a "wider group of eyes," a source close to the Boston bombing investigation tells CNN. The killings of Brendan Mess and two others - all of whom had their throats slit - in Waltham, Massachusetts, remain unsolved. The Middlesex County district attorney's office said at the time that the three victims were killed by "sharp force injuries of the neck." District Attorney Gerry Leone said days after the crime that the victims and two unknown perpetrators appeared to know each other and that it was not a random crime. No suspects were named or arrests made in the case. Tsarnaev and Mess were sparring partners at a local gym, and the source tells CNN investigators believe he was one of the last people to see Mess alive.

Boston Globe: Providence police say body found in river could be missing former Brown student Sunil Tripathi

Police in Providence pulled a man’s body from the Providence River on Tuesday, and authorities said it is “very possible” that it is Sunil Tripathi, 22, a former Brown University student who has been missing since mid-March. Providence police Lieutenant Joseph Donnelly said Tuesday night that “it’s very, very possible” that the body could be Tripathi’s, but also said authorities will not know for sure until the medical examiner’s office in Providence identifies the body Wednesday morning. Donnelly said Tripathi’s family has not been notified of the body’s recovery.

WaPo: Homeowners defaulting in loan modification program, report says

Struggling homeowners who received loan modifications under a federal government program are defaulting on their mortgages at an alarming rate, according to a watchdog report released Wednesday. The report from the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said the Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, has failed to ensure that mortgage reductions are sustainable. Home loans modified in the third and fourth quarters of 2009 are now defaulting at a rate of 46 percent and 39 percent, respectively. As of the end of March, more than 312,000 homeowners have defaulted on mortgages modified under HAMP, according to the report.

CNN: Flooding threatens already drenched Midwest, South

A powerful spring cold snap brings more rain and snow to a soggy U.S. heartland Wednesday, putting more pressure on riverside communities from the upper Midwest to the Deep South. The residents of Grafton, Illinois, north of St. Louis, will see the worst of the floodwaters through Friday as the Mississippi River peaks at more than 11 feet above flood stage, the National Weather Service says. Many along the river's edge decided to evacuate.

WHITE HOUSE:

CNN: Obama hosts female senators at White House

President Barack Obama hosted female U.S. senators at the White House on Tuesday night as he continued his personal outreach to push his second-term legislative agenda. The session lasted just over two hours, according to starting and ending times provided by the White House. The group dined on Alaskan Halibut and peach pie. "The President enjoyed continuing his discussion with the Senators about a wide range of items on the agenda, including working together to find common ground on budget issues and new initiatives to grow our economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class," a White House official said.

WSJ: President's Party Frets About His Powers of Persuasion

Unnerved by the defeat of the gun bill, some Democrats are growing pessimistic that President Barack Obama can muster the votes needed to pass large parts of his second-term agenda, unless voters change the makeup of Congress in the 2014 election. Democratic strategists, lobbyists and some Capitol Hill aides see last week's defeat of the gun-bill amendments as a worrisome sign that Mr. Obama hasn't found a way to bridge the partisan divide in Congress—or even that he has a sufficiently firm hold on the more conservative members of his own party.

Politico: Sources: Obama plans W.H.-GOP budget group

President Barack Obama is reaching out to Republican senators — the most receptive participants from his recent “charm-offensive” dinners — to jump-start talks to reach a “grand bargain” on entitlements, spending and taxes, according to White House and Congressional officials. Obama — fighting against steep odds to reach a big legacy deal on deficits and debts — has personally pressed Congressional leaders for another shot at reaching an agreement similar to one that fell apart during negotiations with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2011.

CAPITOL HILL:

CNNMoney: Fisker teeters, owing taxpayers nearly $200 million

Fisker Automotive executives are due before a Congressional panel Wednesday to answer questions about whether it'll ever repay nearly $200 million in Energy Department and state loans to taxpayers. The electric carmaker, which laid off 75% of its employees earlier this month, missed its first loan payment to the Energy Department on Monday. Treasury has already seized $21 million in an effort to get back some of the taxpayer money loaned to it, but most of the $192 million that was given to the company over the three years is very much at risk.

WSJ: Bill Is Tougher on Crossings

The Senate immigration bill introduced last week calls for tripling the number of criminal prosecutions of migrants who illegally enter the U.S. along the busiest border area, but the court that handles cases there already has an overloaded docket and a chronic shortage of resources. Before 2005, migrants apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol were returned to their country or processed through civil immigration courts. As part of George W. Bush's strategy to get tough on border policy, he launched a program dubbed Operation Streamline mandating that those arrested for unlawful entry would be prosecuted in criminal court and, if convicted, face a prison sentence. First-time crossers face criminal misdemeanor charges, punishable with up to 180 days in prison; repeat offenders face felony charges and longer sentences. Tucked in the current Senate bill, the provision calls for the U.S. District Court in Arizona to bolster the program.

READ: Sen. Marco Rubio Op-Ed in Fox News: Here's the truth about my plan for immigration reform

Politico: Dave Camp to brief House Republicans on tax reform

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp — staring down the last year and a half of holding the powerful gavel — is planning to step up briefings with small groups of rank-and-file lawmakers beginning Thursday to explain the discussion draft bills his staff has produced to rewrite tax laws for small businesses, Wall Street and international corporations. Part of the so-called listening sessions will give Camp a chance to hear more feedback from House Republicans about the legislation and explain how tax reform will come together. In these sessions, the Michigan Republican will also present new polling he commissioned that shows a healthy public appetite for the kind of overhaul of the Tax Code Republicans are working toward.

POLITICAL:

CNN: Sen. Baucus not seeking a seventh term

Longtime Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, will not seek re-election next year, he said in a statement Tuesday. "After much consideration and many conversations with my wife Mel and our family, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2014. I will serve out my term, and then it will be time to go home to Montana," he said. During the remainder of term, Baucus pledged to fight the nation's fiscal issues and work for highway and farm bill that will support jobs in his state. …Meanwhile, former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer is leaning towards running, said multiples Democrats with knowledge of Schweitzer's thinking. The officials asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.

ALSO SEE: Politico: Max Baucus locked in bitter feuds with party

Politico: Gabby Giffords group hits Mitch McConnell, Kelly Ayotte on guns

The group launched by Gabrielle Giffords will start airing gut-punch radio ads against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, highlighting the Republicans' votes against the Democrats’ failed gun control legislation, POLITICO has learned. The ads go up Wednesday in Kentucky against McConnell and in New Hampshire against Ayotte, with a plan to flood the radio airwaves over the next two weeks. The McConnell ad is in the Louisville and Lexington markets, and is aimed at women.

Dallas Morning News: Technology ties together the George W. Bush Center’s many parts

Visitors to the George W. Bush Presidential Center have to walk only a few steps inside the front door before they encounter state-of-the-art technology — and it’s hard to miss. A 20-foot-tall, high-definition LED video wall encircles the inside of Freedom Hall, giving visitors a 360-degree perspective of Texas landscapes, Washington landmarks and slices of American life. The towering video wall was dreamed up even before the means existed to create it. And that kind of cutting-edge gadgetry pervades the Bush Library in ways both big and small, tying together the center’s distinct but related elements: library, museum and policy institute. Officials will cement a more traditional bond at a signing ceremony Wednesday, when the George W. Bush Foundation, which built the center and runs the institute, formally hands over the library and museum to the National Archives and Records Administration.

CNN: Rand Paul faces blowback after new drone comments

Some members of Sen. Rand Paul’s loyal group of Libertarian followers were outraged Tuesday after the Kentucky Republican said he would be fine with a drone strike killing an American citizen robbing a liquor store with a gun. “We shouldn’t be willy-nilly, looking into their backyard at what they’re doing. But if there is a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them out, heat seeking devices being used,” Paul said in an interview on Fox Business Network. …Paul’s hypothetical scenario angered some fans, who loudly supported Paul when he took to the Senate floor in March to question whether the U.S. government believes it had the authority to carry out drone attacks against American citizens on U.S. soil.

NYT: S.E.C. Gets Plea: Force Companies to Disclose Donations

A loose coalition of Democratic elected officials, shareholder activists and pension funds has flooded the Securities and Exchange Commission with calls to require publicly traded corporations to disclose to shareholders all of their political donations, a move that could transform the growing world of secret campaign spending. S.E.C. officials have indicated that they could propose a new disclosure rule by the end of April, setting up a major battle with business groups that oppose the proposal and are preparing for a fierce counterattack if the agency’s staff moves ahead. Two S.E.C. commissioners have taken the unusual step of weighing in already, with Daniel Gallagher, a Republican, saying in a speech that the commission had been “led astray” by “politically charged issues.”

National Journal: Why John McCain Is Barack Obama’s New Best Friend

Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain got off to an awkward start in 2006, when McCain believed that Obama had broken a promise to work with him on ethics reform. The tensions escalated in 2008 during the pair’s presidential face-off, and relations stayed frosty through McCain’s 2010 reelection campaign and his party’s marked swerve to the right. But then Obama was reelected, and the landscape for both men shifted. Now, after years at cross-purposes, they both have history on their minds. Obama, with big plans on immigration, guns, universal pre-K, trade deals, tax reform, entitlements, and the implementation of his health care law, is eyeing his legacy. McCain, who is 76 and may or may not run for reelection in 2016, says repeatedly these days that he wants to get things done and has reverted to his role as a bipartisan deal-maker.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Biden, McCain to have a chat:

NATIONAL SECURITY:

CNN: Hearing planned for 2nd suspect in Canadian terror plot

A hearing for the alleged accomplice in a Canadian terror plot is scheduled for Wednesday as authorities continue to gather information about the plan they say would have caused untold death and destruction. Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, was arrested in Montreal for allegedly planning an al Qaeda-backed attack on a passenger train, authorities said. His court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. Raed Jaser, 35, his suspected accomplice, appeared at a court in Toronto on Tuesday. … The suspects planned to target a train crossing from the United States into Canada, according to a U.S. intelligence official and another government official. It was aimed at the New York-to-Toronto line that runs through Buffalo, another U.S. official said.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Suspected Iran link in Canadian rail plot puzzles terror experts

ALSO SEE: WSJ: Boston Attack Sped Canada Arrests

CNN: Israel says Syria used chemical weapons; Russia warns of 'Iraqi scenario'

Are Syrian forces using chemical weapons in their years-long fight to hold on to power? That's what the head of the Israel Defense Forces intelligence research and analysis division said Tuesday, becoming the latest to allege that Damascus was employing weapons banned under international law against its own people. The claim further stoked the debate about the international community's role in Syria, where the United Nations estimated this month that 70,000 people have been killed since the conflict flared in March 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama, for one, has said the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against its own people would be a "game changer" in how his and other nations address the crisis.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Kerry warns NATO on potential use of chemical weapons in Syria

ALSO SEE: Daily Telegraph: Syria doctor's Facebook video proof that Assad used chemicals in Aleppo

BuzzFeed: The US Has Few Ties To Chechnya, And Less Influence

Long before the son of Chechen immigrants attacked Boston, America had given up on Chechnya. The American government never found a way to exert much leverage in Boris Yeltsin's and Vladimir Putin's brutal wars to put down the insurgency in the restive southern republic, though debates over it, a former administration official said, at times divided the Bush Administration. But there is, in reality, scarcely any American connection to the region. There is no Chechen-American advocacy group; and no program for Chechen refugees.

CNN: House GOP Benghazi report says Clinton signed off on security reduction

House Republican leaders released a report Tuesday on the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which they claim former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally signed off on cuts in security at the compound, which they say would contradict her congressional testimony. …The 46-page report by Republicans on five House committees cites a request from then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz, sent last March 28 to Clinton asking for additional security resources, and a response dated last April 19 that bears Clinton's signature. The April cable from the State Department, according to the GOP report, "acknowledged then-Ambassador Cretz' formal request for additional security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned."

Reuters: Cyber vulnerabilities found in Navy's newest warship: official

The computer network on the U.S. Navy's newest class of coastal warships showed vulnerabilities in Navy cybersecurity tests, but the issues were not severe enough to prevent an eight-month deployment to Singapore, a Navy official said on Tuesday. A Navy team of computer hacking experts found some deficiencies when assigned to try to penetrate the network of the USS Freedom, the lead vessel in the $37 billion Littoral Combat Ship program, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Freedom arrived in Singapore last week for an eight-month stay, which its builder, Lockheed Martin Corp., hopes will stimulate Asian demand for the fast, agile and stealthy ships.

Jerusalem Post: US Treasury takes action against Hezbollah funders

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday listed two Lebanese exchange houses as institutions of “primary money laundering concern” for their work with Hezbollah, invoking Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act to effectively shut them out of the American economy. In a declassified statement of their case, the US claims that the Rmeiti Exchange and Halawi Exchange have consistently complied in a scheme that comingles money from used car dealerships in the US and drugs from South America into significant funding for the Lebanese terrorist organization. The public move puts significant pressure on the Lebanese government to act on its own against the financial houses.

CNN: New role for David Petraeus: Professor

David Petraeus, who resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency after the revelation of an extramarital affair, has been named a visiting professor at Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York, the school's chancellor said Tuesday. Petraeus will assume the position in August, Matthew Goldstein, the chancellor, said. The university did not provide specifics about what Petraeus would be teaching. In a statement, the retired Army general indicated he will lead an economic seminar.

AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

CNN: 'A train has been lifted off my shoulders,' former suspect in ricin case says

Thrust into the headlines last week, accused of sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and two other officials, Paul Kevin Curtis is a free man again. "It's like a train has been lifted off my shoulders," Curtis told CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" on Tuesday. "I'm overwhelmed. I'm extremely happy to be vindicated and out and able to see my kids." Charges were dropped and "new information" became available, U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams said. Authorities are investigating whether someone may have tried to falsely implicate the Elvis impersonator from Corinth, Mississippi, a law enforcement source said on condition of anonymity.

CNN: Lance Armstrong sued by U.S. for post office sponsorship funds

The Justice Department late Tuesday formally filed its case against Lance Armstrong and his company Tailwind Sports for millions of dollars that the U.S. Postal Service spent to sponsor the cycling team. "The USPS paid approximately $40 million to sponsor the USPS cycling team from 1998 to 2004," the court document says. The government said it was intervening to recover triple the amount of the sponsorship funds under the False Claims Act, which could bring a total of more than $100 million in damages.

CNN: 'Two second' safety guideline for cars of the future

Two seconds. Take your eyes off the road any longer and your chances of crashing multiply. With that in mind, the federal government on Tuesday asked automakers to equip cars with devices that require only fleeting glances to operate, instead of prolonged stares. Under the new voluntary guidelines, drivers should be able to operate on-board electronics while removing their eyes from the road - or a hand from the wheel - no longer than two seconds at a time, or 12 seconds total. Time-consuming functions - such as text messaging and Internet browsing - should be allowed only when a car is stopped and in park, the Department of Transportation said.

USA Today: ATF falls behind on inspecting licensed gun dealers

About 58% of federally licensed firearms dealers have not been inspected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the past five years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General. The report finds that the federal agency that enforces gun laws is stretched too thin to keep up with the growing number of firearms dealers. The result: It often takes more than a year — sometimes more than three years — for the agency to revoke a dealer's license after finding serious violations. The report found violations of record-keeping rules are up 276% since 2004, but the number of firearms licenses revoked is down 43%.

WaPo: 13 corrections officers indicted in Md., accused of aiding gang’s drug scheme

More than a dozen Maryland state prison guards helped a dangerous national gang operate a drug-trafficking and money-laundering scheme from behind bars that involved cash payments, sex and access to fancy cars, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. Thirteen female corrections officers essentially handed over control of a Baltimore jail to gang leaders, prosecutors said. The officers were charged Tuesday in a federal racketeering indictment.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

Boston Globe: Providence police say body found in river could be missing former Brown student Sunil Tripathi

Police in Providence pulled a man’s body from the Providence River on Tuesday, and authorities said it is “very possible” that it is Sunil Tripathi, 22, a former Brown University student who has been missing since mid-March. Providence police Lieutenant Joseph Donnelly said Tuesday night that “it’s very, very possible” that the body could be Tripathi’s, but also said authorities will not know for sure until the medical examiner’s office in Providence identifies the body Wednesday morning. Donnelly said Tripathi’s family has not been notified of the body’s recovery.

Boston Globe: Democrats Lynch, Markey trade insults in final debate

The final debate of the US Senate Democratic primary devolved into an exchange of insults and character allegations Tuesday night, as US Representatives Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch abandoned collegiality for a bare knuckles confrontation with one week remaining in their contest. Meeting at a Springfield television station, Markey and Lynch feuded over each other’s Homeland Security records, a particularly salient policy topic after last week’s deadly Boston Marathon bombings. The sharpest exchange, though, came when Markey claimed Lynch’s opposition to federal financial assistance for manufacturers prompted an endorsement for Markey from an automobile workers union. Lynch retorted that he had voted for that bailout, frequently touted by the Obama administration as a successful countermeasure to the recession. “I don’t want to call you a liar, but you are,” Lynch told Markey.

Cincinnati Inquirer: Who is Ed FitzGerald? And why should you care?

Ed FitzGerald is Cuyahoga County’s executive. He’s a former FBI agent who helped clean up Chicago corruption. He’s a prosecutor who has put robbers and killers behind bars. Oh, and the Democrat is expected to announce his bid today to become Ohio governor, taking on incumbent Republican Gov. John Kasich in 2014. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of FitzGerald. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed 76 percent of those polled couldn’t say whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of FitzGerald because they haven’t heard enough about him. But Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke said, “Don’t worry, you will” get to know FitzGerald; after all, there are 18 months until Election Day.

The State: SC Senate passes bill to allow guns in bars and restaurants

The S.C. Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow concealed-weapons permit holders to carry guns into bars and restaurants until midnight — a victory for Second Amendment advocates. The bill’s 33-5 vote Tuesday with bipartisan support came before next week’s deadline for sending bills to the House for possible passage. The bill is the first to pass either State House chamber aimed at expanding gun rights amid a national debate over whether more or fewer gun laws will protect the country against violence such as the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last year, and last week’s Boston bombings. It may be the only one that gains traction.

Austin American Statesman: Feds to investigate whether Austin Fire Department discriminates against minorities

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the Austin Fire Department’s hiring practices based on information indicating it might discriminate against some minorities, the American-Statesman has learned. An assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division authorized the investigation to determine whether the Fire Department is engaged in a “pattern or practice of discrimination against Hispanics and African Americans with respect to employment opportunities in sworn positions” in violation of federal law, according to a letter from the agency that the city received Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the federal investigation.

INTERNATIONAL:

Fox News: UN official accused of diverting money still heads unit tied to Olympic Games

EXCLUSIVE: A key official at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has been charged with spending hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by the German drug manufacturer Bayer AG and the Government of Norway outside normal channels, gaining financial benefits for a family-owned company, sending his children on expensive junkets contrary to UNEP rules, and otherwise abusing his position to “unduly benefit himself and third parties,” according to a U.N. investigation report obtained by Fox News.  So far, the official continues to work in UNEP’s Nairobi-headquarters as head of a unit that, among other things, fosters UNEP collaboration with the Olympics, including next year’s Sochi Winter Games. Meantime, UNEP and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are deciding what to do about the report, which was presented to UNEP’s executive director, Achim Steiner, in early January.

NYT: Israel and Palestinians Agree on U.N. Work in Jerusalem

Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Tuesday to renewed involvement by Unesco, the United Nations cultural agency, in the Old City of Jerusalem. The agreement was a small but significant breakthrough in the often highly politicized workings of the agency. The deal concerns the Old City and its walls, including the Western Wall and an ascent to the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif. It was brokered in an unusual partnership between the United States and Russia, with the help of Jordan, Brazil and the director general of Unesco, Irina Bokova. As part of the arrangement, the Palestinians agreed to postpone five resolutions critical of Israel that were pending before the agency.

CNN: Violence in western Chinese region of Xinjiang kills 21

Violence in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang has killed 21 people, including police officers and local officials, authorities said Wednesday. The clash took place Tuesday afternoon in Bachu county after three local officials visiting homes in the area found "several suspicious persons" and knives in one house, according to a statement on the website of the Xinjiang government.

CNN: WHO: H7N9 virus 'one of the most lethal so far'

As the death toll from China's bird flu outbreak rose to 22 with news of another victim in eastern Zhejiang Province, the World Health Organization warned the H7N9 virus was one of the most lethal that doctors and medical investigators had faced in recent years. "This is an unusually dangerous virus for humans," Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general for health, security and the environment told a news conference in Beijing Wednesday. "We think this virus is more easily transmitted from poultry to humans than H5N1," he added, referring to the bird flu outbreak between 2004 and 2007 that claimed 332 lives.

The Guardian: Fraudster who sold fake bomb detectors in war zones advised by UK officials

A businessman who was found guilty of selling fake bomb detectors was given advice by British government officials on how to market his products to United Nations agencies, it has emerged. Jim McCormick, 57, who was convicted at the Old Bailey on Tuesday of three counts of fraud, was trained at a "how to sell to the UN" seminar organised by UK Trade and Industry in March 2008. He also held meetings with officials at UK Trade & Investment, the export-promotion arm of the Department for Business. McCormick faces up to 10 years in jail for a crime that detectives said "showed a complete disregard for the safety of those that used and relied upon the device for their own security and protection".

BBC: Hundreds of Europeans fighting in Syria, says EU expert

The EU's anti-terror chief has told the BBC that hundreds of Europeans are now fighting with rebel forces in Syria against Bashar al-Assad's regime. Gilles de Kerchove estimated the number in Syria at about 500. Intelligence agencies are concerned some could join groups linked to al-Qaeda and later return to Europe to launch terrorist attacks. The UK, Ireland and France are among the EU countries estimated to have the highest numbers of fighters in Syria.

CNN: Bangladesh building collapse kills over 70

An eight-story building collapsed Wednesday on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital, killing more than 70 people, the national news agency reported. Authorities fear more people may be trapped inside the ruins of the commercial building, the agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported. It cited Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhal Huq as saying that the death toll exceeded 70.

BUSINESS:

NYT: Multinationals Hasten to Invest in Indonesia

When Marcos A. Purty arrived here in 2011 as the chief of General Motors’ Indonesian operations, he found a mothballed auto plant. Today, that plant is humming. About 700 people work in the plant, 16 miles east of Jakarta, compared with about 30 just 18 months ago. And next month, G.M. will start delivering its first Indonesian-built vehicle in years, the Chevrolet Spin. Auto sales are surging in Indonesia — up 17.8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier — rewarding G.M. for the $150 million it recently invested in the country. Other big multinational companies are racing to invest in factories and other operations to cash in on rising consumer demand in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy and most populous nation, with an estimated 251 million people.

Financial Times: Australia to buy Chinese government debt

The Australian central bank plans to invest about 5 per cent of its foreign reserves in Chinese government bonds, in the latest move to build closer economic ties between the two countries. “This decision to invest in China is an important one. It reflects the broader economic relationship between China and Australia and our increasing financial ties”, Philip Lowe, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, said in a speech on Wednesday in Shanghai. “It provides greater diversification of our investments and will help with our understanding of the Chinese financial markets.” Earlier this month, Australia became only the third country to establish a direct currency trading link with China, after the US and Japan.

CNNMoney: False White House explosion tweet rattles market

A fake tweet from the account of the Associated Press sent stocks tumbling more than 140 points within minutes, erasing all of the day's gains and then some, before bouncing back just as rapidly. The erroneous tweet, which was posted around 1:07 p.m. ET, said "BREAKING: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured." The tweet was up for a few minutes before AP's account was suspended, and presumably seen by many of AP's nearly 2 million followers. The tweet was also retweeted by almost 1,500 other Twitter users.

 


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

    The UK, Ireland and France, allow their citizens to go off and fight in rebel wars, that these countries are not officially fighting in and then return back home, afterwards?

    It's not that I don't support the rebel's plight, but if there is a danger that some might return to do Al Queda's work in the lands they now pretend to call home, what is wrong with our Western systems, that extremists can fight in foreign wars, train in foreign militia camps and then come back home to plan terrorist attacks, all while collecting welfare? When can we officially call ourselves suckers?

    April 24, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  2. king

    when will these repubs stop trying to destroy obamacare, their governors are not implementing the healthcare laws in their states, and poor folks and folks that lost their jobs in this bad economy, are losing their homes and their livelyhood because of the existent healthcare law. yet these repubs governors are willing to see their people suffer just to make a point. lesson folks without every state getting involved, the healthcare law will not succeed. these folks want to kill this law so bad, that they dont care what they do to accomplished their mission, all they want to do is blame obama for their destruction. look what they are doing with them implementing the sequester, they take credit when they think every thing is going smoothly, but blame obama when things go sour. how many more times this have to happen before the american people see who the repubs really are.

    April 24, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |