CNN: FBI did its job in Tsarnaev probe, Obama says
Federal intelligence officials are looking at whether more could have been done to prevent the Boston Marathon attacks, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, though he added that he's not aware of any missteps. "Based on what I can see so far, the FBI performed its duties. The Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing," Obama said. "But this is hard stuff." The president called the review by the Director of National Intelligence's office "standard procedure," but it comes amid withering criticism from some lawmakers of how well law enforcement, intelligence analysts and the administration handled a 2011 request by Russian officials to investigate one of the two bombing suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
ALSO SEE: The Hill: Senate panel to probe Boston intel issues
WATCH: VIDEO – CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's six-month visit to Russia and who he might have met there.
Daily Mail Exclusive: Saudi Arabia warned the United States in writing about Boston
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document. The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen. Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Tsarnaev's plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.
CNN: Carjacking victim recalls differing demeanors of bombing suspects
During the 90-minute ride of terror, Tamerlan Tsarnaev kept talking. He barked out orders, detailed his hatred of Americans and asked his carjacking victim to remain calm. Tsarnaev kept asking about the 26-year-old driver's heritage and family. "If you cooperate, I won't kill you," said Tsarnaev, who along with his younger brother, was a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings and the killing of a police officer. The Massachusetts driver, whom CNN is identifying only as Danny because of privacy and safety concerns, gave his account of the April 18 incident and described the very different behavior of Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar.
CNN: Free condoms for your 12-year-old? California health council can help
With just a few clicks of a mouse, kids as young as 12 can have free condoms delivered to their doors in California. And that idea is garnering mixed reactions from Californians. "I would ask parents the question, 'Who should be making decisions for the best welfare of your child - you as a parent, or the state, who has no direct connection, has no understanding, has no relationship with your child?'" San Diego-area pastor Chris Clark told CNN affiliate KSWB. But the disturbing rates of sexually-transmitted diseases among teens call for an immediate response, health officials say.
CNN: Anti-abortion group warns it has more controversial videos
An anti-abortion group that released two controversial undercover videos from a months-long investigation of abortion service providers has vowed to soon put out six more - perhaps releasing a third as early as this week. The group, Live Action, claims that all of the videos will show varying degrees of an illegal act: abortion clinic workers admitting to being willing to kill babies who are born alive after botched abortions.
Reuters: Accused Colorado gunman's lawyers may enter insanity plea over his objections
Lawyers for accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes are questioning the constitutionality of the state's insanity defense law, court records released on Tuesday show, and raising the possibility that they may enter an insanity plea over his objections. Public defenders for Holmes, 25, said in a filing that there is "significant uncertainty and confusion" in Colorado law surrounding an insanity defense in the context of a case where prosecutors are seeking capital punishment. That puts defense attorneys in a quandary, they wrote, because they cannot vouch for "the cognitive ability of their mentally ill client to understand complex legal concepts that few lawyers understand.
CNN: Obama to announce nominee for FCC
President Barack Obama will announce Wednesday he's nominating Tom Wheeler, a top fundraiser for the president's re-election campaign, to head the Federal Communications Commission, according to a White House official. Until he's confirmed, Mignon Clyburn, a member of the commission, will serve as acting chair.
Bloomberg: Obama Said to Choose Watt to Lead Fannie Mae Regulator
Housing industry officials expect President Barack Obama to nominate Representative Mel Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency as early as today, according to three people briefed on the matter. The White House has been struggling to find a replacement for Edward J. DeMarco, who has served as acting director since 2009. FHFA is charged with oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FMCC), the two mortgage financing companies that were taken into U.S. conservatorship as a result of the housing crisis.
CNN: Obamas and Bidens team up for hiring veterans
Both the Obamas and the Bidens are setting new goals in their joint White House initiative to encourage companies to hire more veterans and military spouses into the workforce. "If you can save a life on the battlefield then you can sure as heck save one in an ambulance, if you can oversee a convoy of equipment and track millions of dollars of assets then you can run a company supply chain or you can balance its books," President Obama said. Flanked by military veterans and business leaders, the two power couples held an event in the East Room Tuesday to continue their push for their initiative "Joining Forces" which was launched by President Obama in August 2011 with the initial commitment for businesses to hire or train 100,000 veterans or military spouses by 2013.
WSJ: In Mexico Visit, Obama to Pivot From Security to Economy
President Barack Obama will seek to spotlight Mexico's recent economic strides during a visit there this week, part of a broader push by both nations to move beyond common concerns over drugs and crime. "A lot of the focus is going to be on economics," Mr. Obama told a news conference on Tuesday. "We've spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border." The two-day trip—Mr. Obama's fourth to Mexico as president—comes amid momentous changes for both countries.
ALSO SEE: NYT: Mexico’s Curbs on U.S. Role in Drug Fight Spark Friction
NBC: Poll: Many Americans uninformed about health care overhaul, some don't know it's law
As the Obama administration girds for “glitches and bumps” along the path to full implementation of the health-care law, a new poll indicates many Americans are still unclear about the details of the new law and, in some cases, unaware it’s actually law of the land. A whopping 42 percent of Americans do not know that the Affordable Care Act is, in fact, law. Included in that 42 percent - 12 percent believe it has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent think the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it, and 23 percent are unsure of its status, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll.
CNN: Sen. Marco Rubio: Immigration bill 'probably can't pass the House'
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday he doubts the so-called Gang of Eight's bipartisan immigration reform will gain enough support in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. "The bill that's in place right now probably can't pass the House," the junior senator from Florida said on Mike Gallagher's conservative radio show. "It will have to be adjusted, because people are very suspicious about the willingness of the government to enforce the laws now." The proposal, unveiled by the eight senators two weeks ago, calls for a 13-year path to citizenship for those who entered the United States illegally before 2012.
ALSO SEE: Roll Call: Romney’s ‘Self-Deport’ Option Could Be Part of House Immigration Plan
Politico: Gay rights push threatens immigration deal
The most serious threat to bipartisan immigration reform doesn’t involve border security or guest workers or even the path to citizenship. It’s about gay rights. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has told advocates that he will offer an amendment during the bill markup next week allowing gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for green cards, just as heterosexual couples can. The measure is likely to pass because Democrats face pressure from gay rights advocates to deal with it in committee, rather than on the Senate floor, where the odds of passage are far less favorable.
Politico: A House in chaos
Less than two weeks ago, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy walked upstairs to Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Capitol office to discuss a sensitive issue: Why did Cantor schedule a vote before McCarthy had the chance to survey Republican support? The meeting — described as “tense” by several people familiar with it — ended with McCarthy abruptly standing up and storming out of the room. Aides downplayed the exchange. But a week later, it turned out that McCarthy’s pique was merited: The health care-related bill was suddenly pulled from the floor in what was the most recent stumble for House Republicans. The GOP leadership is dealing with an unprecedented level of frustration in running the House, according to conversations with more than a dozen aides and lawmakers in and around leadership.
The Hill: Sen. Boxer to probe Texas plant explosion
The chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Tuesday launched an investigation into the cause of the deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion, vowing to explore potential gaps in current safety regulations. Saying she “cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced plans to convene a hearing on the accident earlier this month that killed 15 people, injured hundreds and obliterated a section of West, Texas. “It is critical that we find out how this happened,” Boxer said.
CNN: Ed Markey, Gabriel Gomez win Massachusetts Senate primaries
Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, a longtime U.S. congressman, and Republican businessman and political newcomer Gabriel Gomez will face off in the Massachusetts Senate special election after winning their respective party nominations in Tuesday's primary, the Associated Press projected. Markey beat fellow Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, while Gomez won a three-way primary in a race largely overshadowed by the Boston Marathon bombings that took place a little more than two weeks ago.
ALSO SEE: Boston Globe: Democrats fear reliving 2010 race that elected Brown
CNN: Daughter of Newtown victim confronts senator
When Sen. Kelly Ayotte was defending her vote on Tuesday on a recent gun control proposal, she was confronted by the daughter of a victim in the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school massacre. Speaking at her first town hall event in New Hampshire since the gun vote earlier this month, the Republican senator sought to explain why she voted against a measure that would expand background checks on firearms sales. But the crowd of gun control advocates and opponents created a tense environment.
Politico: Chris Christie’s million-dollar ad buy
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is hitting the airwaves Wednesday for the first time in his reelection bid with an ad buy north of $1 million, two media buying sources told POLITICO. The buy is for more than $800,000 in the pricey New York market, and nearly $400,000 in the Philadelphia market, one of the sources said. The ad will run through May 12 on broadcast and cable. Both markets, which are among the most costly in the nation, stretch into New Jersey.
NYT: Koch Brothers Plan More Political Involvement for Their Conservative Network
As the country’s leading conservative donors finished off plates of roast lamb and spaetzle in a Palm Springs, Calif., hotel ballroom on Monday, Charles G. Koch delivered a pep talk. The November elections had been a major setback for the cause of liberty, Mr. Koch told the more than 200 guests, many of whom had pumped millions of dollars into the political operation founded by Mr. Koch and his brother David. But there would be no backing down, Mr. Koch said, according to some of those attending. They would learn from their mistakes, test new strategies in the coming months and prepare for the 2014 elections, with control of Congress once again at stake.
Deadline Hollywood: Will ‘Rodham’ Affect Hillary Clinton In 2016?
Hillary Clinton’s next run for the White House could be battling Hollywood as well as the Republicans in 2016. A feature film from the producers of The Twilight Saga about the former Secretary of State’s early life looks set to come out just as the primaries begin heating up in the next election. …Meanwhile, Hollywood support for both Clintons is approaching 1990s levels. I’ve learned big Democratic donors Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Katzenberg are preparing to get behind Hillary as bundlers for 2016.
ALSO SEE: CNN: 2016 Poll: Hillary Clinton lapping potential Democratic field
Politico: Hillary Clinton to speak at Axelrod’s epilepsy event
Hillary Clinton will be the honoree at a June event hosted by a group founded by President Barack Obama’s recently departed top strategist, David Axelrod. The organization, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, was formed by Axelrod and his wife, Susan, to find a cure for a disease that severely affected their daughter. Clinton was the first keynote the group ever had at its annual dinner in 1999, when she was still first lady but was already looking at a U.S. Senate run in New York. She also launched a White House summit on epilepsy while her husband was still in office.
BuzzFeed: Kirsten Gillibrand Kicks Off Ambitious 2014 Fundraising Campaign In NY
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose work on behalf of women candidates during last year's election cycle helped elevate the New York Democrat to the national stage, will host a kick-off fundraising event for her political action committee Thursday in New York City, according to her office. Gillibrand's PAC, called Off the Sidelines, aims to recruit and help elect more women to higher office. Last year, while she was running her own reelection campaign, Gillibrand also managed to raise $1 million for female candidates like Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Claire McCaskill, who received the largest share of funds — over $200,000 — for her tight reelection race in Missouri against former Republican Rep. Todd Akin.
WSJ: Conservatives' Ads Pressure GOP on Immigration
A conservative group is joining business leaders in sponsoring TV ads that seek to tamp down Republican jitters over a Senate immigration bill and build support among GOP lawmakers for the measure. The conservative American Action Network plans to spend $300,000 over the next week for ads on the Fox News network featuring Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. The ad's message: The current immigration system is broken. Fixing it won't be easy. But there are ways to do it that would be tough and enforceable.
CNN: Romney on Olympics bid: Thanks, but no thanks
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is happy to offer advice and counsel to San Diego's committee bidding for the Olympic Games, but he does "not intend to take a management position with the committee," according to Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat, told the Associated Press over the weekend that he wants the former Massachusetts governor, who's been credited with saving the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, to head up the 2024 bid for San Diego and its neighboring city, Tijuana, Mexico.
WaPo: McDonnell says he’s still able to govern
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell sought to assure Virginians on Tuesday that he is able to do his job as governor and not be distracted as the FBI explores the relationship that he and his wife have with the businessman who helped pay for their daughter’s wedding. McDonnell’s remarks were his first extensive comments following revelations in The Washington Post in late March that Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. paid the $15,000 catering tab at Cailin McDonnell’s June 2011 wedding. The controversy also has extended to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, who initially failed to disclose substantial stock holdings in Star and personal gifts from Williams.
ALSO SEE: National Journal: Virginia Governor's Race Overshadowed By Scandal
CNN: All options on the table regarding Syria, US officials
All options remain on the table as the Obama administration considers what, if any, military action to take in Syria following the suspected use of chemical weapons there, U.S. officials tell CNN. They say this includes the possibility of providing arms to rebels even though the administration has opposed this step and several caution that its resistance to doing so is unlikely to change. So far, the United States has provided communications and other non-lethal aid to the rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a two-year civil war. …the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Obama is preparing to send "lethal weaponry" to the opposition. But officials also emphasized in the report that supplying arms is one of several options under consideration. The Post said Obama would likely make a final decision on arms in coming weeks.
WATCH: VIDEO – President Obama clarifies to the press what he meant by his "game changer" comments on chemical weapons in Syria.
NYT: Leader of Hezbollah Warns It Is Ready to Come to Syria’s Aid
The leader of Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite organization, edged closer on Tuesday to acknowledging that its fighters were battling rebels in neighboring Syria, an intervention that threatens to drag Lebanon deeper into that conflict. The leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared in a televised speech that Hezbollah could become more deeply involved in the future, and warned that Syria had “real friends” who would not allow it “to fall into the hands” of America, Israel and Islamic extremists, the forces that the Syrian government routinely blames for the two-year uprising against it.
CNN: Benghazi 'whistleblowers' intimidated, lawyer says
At least four State Department and CIA employees are being intimidated and blocked from cooperating with a congressional investigation into the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, according to an attorney for one of the officials. The officials consider themselves whistleblowers and feel threatened with career damage if they decide to give testimony to Congress, according to Victoria Toensing, an attorney for one of the State Department officials.
CNN: Why is North Korea cooling it?
After weeks of fiery rhetoric, military saber rattling and threats against the United States and South Korea, North Korea seems downright quiet and willing to dial back the tension. Fears Kim Jong Un would test a long-range missile have given way to an easing of his daily war threats, and North Korea has produced a list of conditions for dialogue. In exchange for returning talks, North Korea wants the lifting of U.N. sanctions, the end of the U.S.-South Korea military drills, the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear strike capabilities from the region and a halt on criticism of the North. It also wants a South Korean apology for offending its leadership. Still, even the subtle shift in tone is an improvement to the war footing Pyongyang was on just weeks ago.
ALSO SEE: WSJ: North Korea Doubles Down on China Ties
Time: Looming Clash Between Seoul and Washington Over Nuclear Technology
When South Korean President Park Geun-hye visits Washington on May 5 she will be reaffirming the 60-year alliance between the U.S. and her country with cordiality. Relations between Washington and Seoul are better than ever thanks to a free-trade agreement, greater policy coordination and solidarity against North Korea’s provocations. But there is an unresolved question in their relationship: How much nuclear technology should South Korea possess? Representatives from both countries have tried to answer that question since October 2010, when they started negotiating over the 1974 nuclear-cooperation agreement, which permits commercial nuclear trade between the two nations.
NYT: Kerry Calls Arab League Plan to Revive Talks With Israel a ‘Big Step’
Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday embraced a proposal by the Arab League to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians as “a very big step forward,” but initial reactions suggested that the new initiative might have difficulty penetrating the years-long impasse. “We’re taking more steps,” Mr. Kerry said Tuesday, a day after a Qatar-led delegation of Arab states presented the initiative to him and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at a meeting near the White House. “Yesterday was another step. And we’re going to continue to march forward and try to bring people to the table despite the difficulties and the disappointments of the past.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Russ Feingold in talks to become U.S. special envoy in Africa
Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold is in talks with officials at the U.S. State Department to become the special envoy for the Great Lakes region in Africa, according to sources. "Nothing has been finalized yet," said one source. Feingold issued a statement on Sunday suggesting he was open to taking such a job. The post would mean working closely with Secretary of State John Kerry, with whom Feingold served in the Senate. "I would of course welcome the opportunity to work with Secretary Kerry and to serve my country and President," the three-term Democratic senator said via email. Feingold, who has kept a relatively low profile since losing to Ron Johnson in 2010, has long held an interest in African affairs.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: U.S. affidavit in ricin case offers twists and turns but no motive
From a dust mask that tested positive for ricin, to an enigmatic dump of a coffee grinder, to talk of making and mailing "poison," an affidavit unsealed Tuesday shed light on the case against a Mississippi man accused of sending potentially deadly letters to President Barack Obama and others. Just more than a week ago, James Everett Dutschke described the man then jailed in the case - an Elvis, Buddy Holly and Randy Travis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis - as a "little nutty." Now Curtis is free, and the 41-year-old Dutschke is behind bars. The document unsealed Tuesday explains what led authorities to arrest Dutschke - but not why he allegedly concocted the poison and sent it to elected officials.
Politico: FBI hints at OK to question terror suspects who ask for lawyer
An article published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests that FBI agents are on solid legal ground if they continue to question a terrorism suspect who has asked for an attorney—as they reportedly did with Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The February 2011 article by a lawyer and instructor at the FBI Academy, Carl Benoit, points to two federal appeals court rulings that concluded such questioning was constitutional and that evidence obtained as a result could be used in court. The article (posted here) appeared in the Law Enforcement Bulletin, an FBI publication aimed at "the larger policing community." Citing a senior Congressional aide, the Los Angeles Times reported last week that Tasrnaev "asked several times for a lawyer, but that request was ignored."
CNN: All Dreamliner airlines to resume flights
The eight airlines around the world that have the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in their fleets are set to resume commercial flights of the aircraft by early June. Qatar Airways was the latest airline to confirm it would resume Dreamliner flights between Doha and Dubai this week and a longer service from Doha to London's Heathrow starting May 15. Ethiopian Airlines was the first to recommence passenger flights with a service from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday. This week Japan authorized passenger airlines to resume flying the embattled aircraft in the country starting Friday, officials said.
Denver Post: Colorado couples celebrate midnight civil-unions ceremony
Hundreds of Colorado gay and lesbian couples put an official government seal on their relationships in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after the state's civil-unions law took effect. Shortly after midnight, whoops and cheers rang off the glassy interior of Denver's Wellington E. Webb Building and then again and again when each new set of 10 numbers flashed on a television monitor near the Clerk and Record's office, summoning the next in line to come apply for a license. With paperwork in hand, the couples returned to the atrium to exchange vows.
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Iowa senator is at core of Michele Bachmann's legal dilemma
Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign was looking for a boost in the crowded Iowa caucus field when she fixed on Kent Sorenson, a populist Tea Party firebrand. Bald, burly and born again, the newly elected Iowa state senator from Milo was seen by Bachmann advisers as a natural link to the anti-establishment, Christian right wing of the Republican Party. As early as March 2011, Bachmann fundraiser Guy Short called Sorenson “the real deal.” Now Sorenson is at the center of a political maelstrom involving alleged under-the-table payments that are the subject of a congressional ethics inquiry and a Federal Election Commission complaint.
Arizona Republic: Arizona abortion issue heightens Medicaid standoff
Democrats are growing frustrated over Gov. Jan Brewer’s struggle to get her Medicaid-expansion proposal into the Legislature and say efforts to appease reluctant Republican lawmakers with anti-abortion legislation threaten their support. The governor’s team is working to craft abortion legislation under pressure from one of the state’s most powerful lobbying groups, which holds sway over GOP votes that Brewer desperately needs. The abortion issue has added more uncertainty to sputtering negotiations over Medicaid expansion — Brewer’s top legislative priority — as talk about putting the question of expansion to Arizona voters has ramped up.
CNN: Death toll from Bangladesh building collapse climbs above 400
The death toll from the calamitous building collapse near the Bangladeshi capital last week has risen above 400, a military official involved in the salvage operation said Wednesday. A week after the nine-story building that housed five garment factories in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, caved in, 402 dead bodies have been recovered from the wreckage, said Col. Shayekh Jaman of the Bangladeshi Army. A total of 2,437 people have been rescued alive, he said. At the site of the collapse, Bangladesh's deadliest industrial disaster, hundreds of people are now using heavy machinery including large cranes to gradually clear away the debris and find the unknown number of bodies that remain encased within the ruins.
ALSO SEE: BBC: Dhaka building collapse: EU considering action
BBC: Greeks stage 24-hour anti-austerity general strike
A general strike against tough austerity measures is under way in Greece, with trade unions calling for "mass mobilisation" of protesters. The 24-hour action is expected to severely disrupt public services, including transport and hospitals. The organisers are demanding an end to spending cuts and tax rises. The government says the measures are badly needed to lead Greece out of a deep financial crisis and six straight years of recession.
CNN: Turkey bans May Day protests at Taksim Square; demonstrators vow to press on
After allowing May Day ralliers to mass at Istanbul's Taksim Square the last three years, Turkish authorities said they wouldn't permit it Wednesday. And that decision has not gone down well with demonstrators. The government said the central square is under major renovation, and not safe for large gatherings. Authorities canceled transit service to the square and said they will use "all the resources of the state" to prevent demonstrations.
CNN: Lawmakers report brawl in Venezuelan National Assembly
A brawl broke out in Venezuela's National Assembly on Tuesday as political tensions mounted over disputed elections in the South American country. Opposition lawmakers claimed they were physically assaulted in a planned ambush by supporters of President Nicolas Maduro's government, while leaders of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela blamed the opposition for instigating violence. During the fight, government cameras broadcasting the National Assembly session on state television pointed toward the ceiling. Videos sent to CNN en Español and CNN affiliate Globovision by opposition lawmakers show punches being thrown as some try to break up the fight.
WSJ: First Stop: Berlin
For new leaders in crisis-plagued Europe, it has become a ritual as obligatory as the oath of office: a visit to Angela Merkel's Berlin. Germans might refer to it as a Pflichttermin—an awkward, yet mandatory appointment. Be they from Ireland or Portugal, Spain or Greece, newly sworn-in prime ministers from the debt-heavy region have in recent years made Berlin the first stop on their tour of European capitals. The pilgrimages seem to take on more importance the longer the euro crisis, which began in 2009, drags on. It took Italy's new prime minister, Enrico Letta, only a few hours after winning a confidence vote in Rome on Tuesday to make it to Ms. Merkel's chancellery.
Financial Times: Syrian rebels get to grips with local government
The sign erected outside the old mayor’s office of a small village in rebel-held northern Syria is surprisingly lacking in revolutionary fervour. “Anyone who throws rubbish in the street will be fined,” it says, before warning that repeat offenders face one month in jail. “It’s not serious,” admits Kheireddine al-Ahmad, the head of the newly-formed local council. “It’s just meant to deter people.” The chief of the village police sitting next to him, a fighter loyal to the local commander, chuckles as he nods in agreement. As the central Syrian state has pulled back from areas under rebel control after two years of conflict, necessity has forced rebel fighting brigades to take on the role of governing in the towns and villages across the poppy-dusted farmlands of rural northern Syria. To do so they have created local authorities that are far from perfect entities.
Financial Times: Fed weighs tighter cap on bank leverage
Federal Reserve officials are weighing a stricter cap on bank leverage , a move that would respond to increasing demands to constrain the riskiness of large lenders. According to people familiar with the matter, Fed officials have discussed increasing the amount of equity capital banks are required to hold, setting the bar higher than the 3 per cent of assets level agreed internationally. The move is being considered amid growing scepticism about the Basel III capital accords, which impose higher capital requirements on banks around the world but allow them to vary the amount depending on the riskiness of individual assets. Officials are concerned that some banks are gaming the system.
WSJ: High-Speed Traders Exploit Loophole
High-speed traders are using a hidden facet of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's CME +0.03% computer system to trade on the direction of the futures market before other investors get the same information. Using powerful computers, high-speed traders are trying to profit from their ability to detect when their own orders for certain commodities are executed a fraction of a second before the rest of the market sees that data, traders say. The advantage often is just one to 10 milliseconds, according to people familiar with the matter and trading records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. But that is plenty of time for computer-driven traders, who say they can structure their orders so that the confirmations tip which direction prices for crude oil, corn and other commodities are moving. A millisecond is one-thousandth of a second. The ability to exploit such small time gaps raises questions about transparency and fairness amid the computer-driven, rapid-fire trading that increasingly grips Wall Street and confounds regulators.
CNNMoney: Marissa Mayer extends Yahoo's maternity leave
Nine months after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gave birth, she is extending Yahoo's parental leave policy. Both new mothers and fathers at Yahoo can now take eight weeks of paid parental leave, and the mothers can take an additional eight weeks. What's more, new parents will also receive $500 to buy items like groceries and baby clothes. It's part of a slate of new benefits "to support the happiness and well-being of Yahoos and their families," the company confirmed via email. NBC Bay Area first reported these changes. Other new perks include gifts for new pets, and eight weeks of unpaid leave each time an employee hits a five-year milestone.
ALSO SEE: CNNMoney: Marissa Mayer's first-year pay: $6 million