URGENT – Iraq Violence
– (CNN) - A total of 712 people were killed and another 1,633 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in Iraq in April - making it the deadliest month since June 2008, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq said Tuesday. Baghdad saw the most violence, the agency said.
CNN: FBI details how blast suspect's friends took, trashed key pieces of evidence
When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got a text from a friend asking him if he was one of the two men shown in FBI-released photos of Boston bombing suspects, his reply was short and light: LOL. Other messages from the teenager followed, including "You better not text me" and "Come to my room and take whatever you want," according to an FBI affidavit released Wednesday. His friend took the texts as jokes, as if Tsarnaev found humor in the mere idea that he could be responsible for such horror. But when Dias Kadyrbayev showed one of their mutual friends that last text, the friend wasn't laughing.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Who are Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos?
CNN: Delivery of top section set for 1 World Trade Center
The weather-delayed delivery of the final two sections of a 408-foot spire to the top of One World Trade Center will take place Thursday morning, weather permitting. Once the two sections are installed they will make One World Trade Center the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. But that installation will not happen until a later date, officials said. Thursday is the second anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks that toppled the original World Trade Center towers. But the timing of the delivery is coincidental.
CNN: Seattle May Day protests turn violent
A May Day protest in downtown Seattle turned violent Wednesday night, with police saying they resorted to pepper spray to disperse demonstrators who pelted them with whatever was at hand. Seattle Police said the crowd tossed rocks, bottles, metal pipes, fireworks - and even a skateboard. The clashes left eight officers with injuries, and police said they arrested 18 people.
CNN: Rescue workers weren't prepared for chaos of Aurora shooting
When a shooter sprayed a movie audience with bullets in a Colorado theater last summer, paramedics were not prepared for the extent of the carnage and arrived with too few ambulances, fire officials say in a new report. Fourteen hundred audience members rushed out in a panic, when James Holmes allegedly opened fire in Aurora's Century cinema on July 20, killing 12 and wounding nearly 60 more. The confused crowd swarmed around ambulances and police cars, blocking access to the building and the parking lot and hindering rescue efforts, the Aurora fire department said Wednesday in a preliminary analysis of the incident.
USA Today: $3.3 billion lost in unemployment fraud, study says
Unemployment fraud is costing the government billions of dollars in paid benefits to people who are still working, no longer alive or are behind bars, according to a report. A study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve released last week found that of the $108 billion paid out in unemployment benefits in 2011, some $3.3 billion was paid out dishonestly The largest share of the fraud payments — $2.2 billion — went to people who were still working.
CNN: California law shifts $24 million to gun-confiscation program
California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed legislation Wednesday that will boost funding for state efforts to confiscate firearms from those prohibited by law from owning them, the governor's office announced. The bill gives $24 million from the Dealers' Record of Sale fund – fees paid by gun owners at the time of purchase – to the state's Department of Justice to help clear the backlog of individuals who once purchased a gun but are now barred from possessing firearms. The state's Bureau of Firearms has identified about 20,000 Californians who illegally hold an estimated 40,000 handguns and assault weapons, with the list growing by 15 to 20 every day.
CNN: Key issues on Obama's Mexico trip: Trade, immigration and drug war
U.S. President Barack Obama heads south of the border Thursday to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in the country's capital. Here are three key topics that are likely to be on the table, and a look at how the leaders and Mexicans have weighed in on those issues: 1. Trade and economic ties 2. Immigration 3. Security and the drug war
WATCH: VIDEO – Trade, not immigration is expected to top talks during President Obama's trip to Latin America. Rafael Romo reports.
Politico: Winning over Obama with ESPN
President Barack Obama loves to watch sports – and the people who want to catch his eye know it. Companies and trade associations are doing something a little strange: they’re buying up airtime on ESPN. Media strategists tell POLITICO they offer up the all-sports network as an option to clients who want to get their issues in front of Obama and top White House officials, known as big sports fans and rabid ESPN watchers. “It’s certainly a tactic that’s talked about a lot,” said one media strategist, who had a client advertise on ESPN in hopes of reaching Obama during the climate change debate of his first term. “It was for exactly that reason.”
WaPo: Obama prods liberals to give-and-take on Senate immigration bill
President Obama is warning liberal supporters that their push to make changes in a comprehensive immigration bill could jeopardize the strategy of Senate leaders, who are aiming to win up to 70 votes for the measure. While much of Washington has focused on objections from Republicans, Obama and other Democrats have mounted a behind-the-scenes campaign in recent days aimed at mollifying advocates, who argue that an 844-page Senate bill excludes too many illegal immigrants and makes it too hard for the rest to become citizens. The efforts underscore the perilous path ahead for a comprehensive immigration deal, which is one of Obama’s top agenda items for his second term but faces mounting criticism from those on both the left and right.
Bloomberg: White House Feels Sequestration Pain in Staff Furloughs
President Barack Obama began experiencing first-hand the effects of across-the-board federal spending cuts as the first wave of White House furloughs kicked in yesterday. The $85 billion in cuts known as sequestration hit White House staffers with day-long furloughs scattered throughout the next two weeks. All staff classified as non-commissioned will miss one work day without salary during May’s first pay period while commissioned officers who, as assistants to the president don’t qualify as leave-earners, will have to take a pay cut commensurate with the planned furlough, spokesman Jay Carney said.
Politico: Obama to raise cash in California for Senate Dems
President Barack Obama will lend his fundraising muscle to Senate Democrats next month, headlining a West Coast fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. Obama will appear at a June 6 reception and dinner in Palo Alto along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, chairman of the DSCC.
Reuters: Amid new security threats, some in Congress look to update 9/11 law
A few dozen words rushed into law days after the September 11, 2001, attacks have been used to justify U.S. counterterrorism efforts from the war in Afghanistan to warrantless wiretapping and drone strikes, all on orders of the White House – and with little congressional oversight. Now, as criticism grows that the law has been stretched well beyond its original intent to go after militant groups that did not even exist on 9/11, some Democrats and Republicans have begun writing legislation to update the nearly 12-year-old resolution. That could restoke tensions between Congress and the White House over executive power, which were on display when Republican Senator Rand Paul staged a 13-hour filibuster in March to protest President Barack Obama's use of unmanned aircraft to conduct targeted killings.
CNN: Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania blamed political polarization for the failure of last month's background check compromise he reached with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, saying some in his party simply voted against the measure to prevent the president from winning a legislative victory. "In the end, it didn't pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it," Toomey said. "The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else," he added.
CNN: Gay rights plan clouds immigration reform prospects
A prominent gay rights advocacy group says a key congressional Democrat will push for new rights for same-sex couples in the Senate's immigration reform bill - a move which could undermine the legislation's bipartisan support. According to a spokesman for Immigration Equality, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy intends to offer an amendment later this month allowing foreign-born individuals in committed same-sex relationships with Americans to apply for green cards. Currently, such rights apply to only to foreign-born men or women in heterosexual marriages with U.S. citizens.
Charleston Gazette: Manchin pushing on with gun background check legislation
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Wednesday he's pushing forward on legislation to expand background checks for gun buyers, saying he believes the facts and common sense ultimately will prevail. "We are not giving up," Manchin said. Legislation he co-sponsored with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., fell six votes short of the 60 needed for passage three weeks ago, although a no vote by Majority Leader Harry Reid was procedural, so that the bill could be reconsidered. Manchin told Gazette editors Wednesday he is confident that once the bill is tweaked to resolve concerns of some senators, and once false information about the bill is refuted, the bill will pass the Senate.
CNN: Kissinger gives a bit of a wink to the idea of Hillary Clinton in 2016
Former Secy. of State Henry Kissinger gave a very public nod Wednesday night to a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign – saying that secretaries of state have a good track record of moving into the highest office in the land. “At least four secretaries of state became president,” the foreign-born Kissinger joked during remarks at the annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington. “And that sort of started focusing my mind even though there was a constitutional provision that prevented me from doing it. I thought up all kinds of schemes to get around that.” Then, adopting a more serious tone, he continued. “I want to tell Hillary that when she misses the office, when she looks at the histories of secretaries of state, there might be hope for a fulfilling life afterwards.”
CNN: Bush fundraiser: Grandparents host for grandson, Jeb attends
Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara are giving their grandson's political ambitions a big boost by hosting a Wednesday evening fundraiser for George P. Bush, who is running as a Republican for the post of Texas Land Commissioner, CNN has learned. The event, to be held at the former president's home in Houston, is also featuring former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, George P.'s father, according to a source with knowledge of it. About 50 people are expected to attend with each paying $10,000. This is the first fundraiser by the grandparents and his father for George P. although Jeb Bush has done other events promoting his son's candidacy.
WSJ: Governors, GOP Allies Clash Over Tax Cuts
Republican lawmakers in several states are blunting plans by GOP governors to reduce or eliminate income taxes, putting the legislators at odds with figures many in the party see as leading voices on reshaping government. Friction over tax policy within the GOP has flared in states such as Louisiana, Nebraska, Kansas and Ohio, as Republican lawmakers raise concerns over projected revenue losses from income-tax cuts. Three of those states shelved big income-tax cuts that would be paid for by broadening the sales tax, and in Kansas, legislators will return next week to a continuing debate over the size and speed of proposed cuts.
Roll Call: GOP Launches iPhone-Like, High-Tech Data Operation
National Republicans are building a new data-sharing platform as the party moves to close a digital divide with Democrats that became glaringly apparent in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election. Per a sneak peek provided to CQ Roll Call, the Republican National Committee is set to announce a partnership with two third-party entities designed to facilitate unprecedented data generation and sharing across all GOP party committees, consultants, vendors and the conservative outside groups that have become increasingly active in political campaigns. The effort, which could cost up to $20 million, stems from recommendations made by the Growth and Opportunity Project, the RNC’s internal autopsy of what went wrong last year commissioned by Chairman Reince Priebus.
BuzzFeed: Hey, Where Did Cory Booker Go?
If you haven't heard much about Cory Booker lately, it's no accident. The Newark mayor — typically at home in the spotlight, at the center of a crowd, or on the set of a cable news show — spent much of April behind closed doors, working to formalize the nascent stages of his bid for U.S. Senate, professionalize his campaign operation, create an early fundraising advantage, and let the people of New Jersey focus on the gubernatorial race this fall. Aides to the mayor, who won't make his bid for Senate official until after the governor's race, say privately that Booker is laying low, and even avoiding big interviews, to buckle down on creating a foundation for his campaign and concentrate on his last 400 days in Newark City Hall.
CNN: NRA to get new president
The National Rifle Association is getting a new president, the organization confirmed Wednesday. As part of its formal rotation, Alabama attorney Jim Porter will take the top spot beginning Monday, replacing current President David Keene, whose two-year term concludes this week at the NRA's annual meeting in Houston.
CNN: North Korea sentences U.S. citizen to 15 years of hard labor
A North Korean court has sentenced a U.S. citizen to 15 years of hard labor, saying he committed "hostile acts" against the secretive state. The country's Supreme Court delivered the sentence against Pae Jun Ho, known as Kenneth Bae by U.S. authorities, on Tuesday, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Thursday. The KCNA article said Bae a Korean-American, was arrested November 3 after arriving as a tourist in Rason City, a port in the northeastern corner of North Korea. It didn't provide any details about the "hostile acts" he is alleged to have committed.
CNN: Official: Human trafficking probe at Saudi diplomat's home
Federal authorities are investigating a potential case of human trafficking at the suburban Washington home of a Saudi diplomat, officials said Wednesday. Authorities were called Tuesday afternoon to an upscale neighborhood in McLean, Virginia, where they "removed two potential trafficking victims," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brandon Montgomery told CNN. A State Department official said the McLean house is the home of a Saudi diplomat.
CNN: Hillary Clinton: NATO risks sliding into "military irrelevance"
A NATO alliance where member nations are hamstrung by political and economic difficulties may be a militarily weakened one, former Secy. of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night. "NATO is turning into a two-tiered alliance with shrinking percentage of members willing – and able – to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense," Clinton said. "Even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to let the greatest alliance in history slide into military irrelevance." Clinton was speaking at an annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington where both she and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were honored with Distinguished Leadership awards.
CNN: Israel wary about possibility of U.S. arming Syrian rebels
Israel is asking the Obama administration not to arm Syrian rebels unless it can carefully screen them to ensure no weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists groups, the Israeli ambassador to the United States tells CNN. "If it were decided to provide lethal assistance, we ask those groups be carefully vetted," Ambassador Michael Oren said Wednesday. He declined to offer specifics but broadly indicated the matter has come up in recent weeks – in the general time frame of visits to Israel by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Neighboring Jordan and Turkey have expressed similar concerns.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Syrian leader makes rare public appearance
ALSO SEE: Reuters: Syria mediator is determined to resign, U.N. diplomats say
Reuters: Pentagon prepares to ask Congress for break from 'sequester'
The Pentagon is preparing to ask Congress soon for more authority to shift funds to cope with automatic spending cuts, confronting lawmakers with another exception to the "sequester" just days after they gave a break to the flying public and the airline industry. The request may be sent to the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee as early as next week, a House Republican aide said on Wednesday. The Pentagon won increased budget flexibility in March, but officials have told members of Congress they believe it was insufficient to cover shortfalls in training and operations.
WSJ: Japan's Nuclear Plan Unsettles U.S.
Japan is preparing to start up a massive nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant over the objections of the Obama administration, which fears the move may stoke a broader race for nuclear technologies and even weapons in North Asia and the Middle East. The Rokkasho reprocessing facility, based in Japan's northern Aomori prefecture, is capable of producing nine tons of weapons-usable plutonium annually, said Japanese officials and nuclear-industry experts, enough to build as many as 2,000 bombs, although Japanese officials say their program is civilian.
LA Times: David Petraeus, former CIA chief and military leader, joins USC
David H. Petraeus, the former four-star U.S. Army general who resigned as head of the Central Intelligence Agency last year after confessing to an extramarital affair, will teach part-time at USC and help mentor students who are veterans, officials are announcing Thursday. Petraeus, who commanded coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, will teach and participate in seminars on such issues as international relations, government, leadership, information technology and energy, according to USC. The retired general last month also accepted a visiting faculty position at the City University of New York.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: FAA furloughs over, air traffic controllers back on the job
Good news for air travelers, both domestic and international: A budget-related furlough of air traffic controllers is over - and with it, the resulting travel delays. Last week's toll? More than 40,000 flights delayed and 1,900 others canceled, according to FlightStats.com. Hard hit were U.S. airports with large numbers of international travelers.
CNN: Ricin suspect to appear in court
A 41-year-old Mississippi man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others will appear in court Thursday where a judge will decide whether he should remain in custody. James Everett Dutschke was arrested April 27, and many of the accusations against him were detailed in an affidavit unsealed Tuesday. On April 22, federal authorities searched a trash receptacle from Dutschke's Tupelo home and found, among other items, different types of yellow paper, address labels and a dust mask. The letters to Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and Sadie Holland, a judge in Lee County, Mississippi were all on yellow paper.
ALSO SEE: WaPo: Original ricin suspect was held despite evidence pointing to another man
CNN: FBI seeks information on three men in connection with Benghazi investigation
The three men who the FBI announced it is seeking information about could "possibly be implicated" in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, a federal law enforcement official said Wednesday. The official said the men were at the scene of the September 11 attack, and it is unclear if they were involved or just could have knowledge about what occurred that night.
CNN: Justice Department appeals morning-after pill ruling
The U.S. Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Wednesday over a federal judge's ruling that directed the Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after birth control pill available to females of all ages without a prescription. The government also filed a motion for a temporary stay of the FDA's approval on Tuesday of the availability of the Plan B One-Step emergency contraception pill without a prescription for ages 15 and older.
ALSO SEE: Politico: Plan B appeal angers W.H. allies
Seattle Times: Boeing to offer 777X for sale as launch nears
The Boeing board has given the green light to offer airlines the proposed new 777X widebody jet, which means key decisions on where to build its wings and assemble it could be just months away. “We’ve made great progress in our development work and we are beginning to discuss additional technical, pricing and schedule details with customers regarding 777X,” said Boeing spokeswoman Karen Crabtree.
Detroit Free Press: Detroit spending millions on consultants in turnaround effort
Detroit has agreed to spend nearly $14 million since December to contract nine firms to provide a range of financial and legal services to help the city overcome its staggering deficit and costly long-term liabilities. More than $3 million of that came in hiring emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s former law firm last month. While Detroit’s turnaround team continues to expand, City Council members are questioning the costs and wondering exactly who is in charge of the consultants.
WaPo: Illegal immigrants could apply for D.C. driver’s licenses under Gray proposal
Mayor Vincent C. Gray is set to introduce legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain D.C. driver’s licenses, following similar moves by Maryland and several other states. The legislation, according to a Facebook posting Tuesday night by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Engagement, “would allow all eligible District residents the right to obtain a driver’s license or DC identification card, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.” Gray, who is set to unveil the bill at a news conference Thursday afternoon, declined to discuss the proposal Wednesday. “We’re still working through certain issues, and I’d rather not preempt myself,” he said.
NYT: U.S. Rules Bar Aid to Co-ops Hit by Sandy
At the Beverly Hills co-op in Brooklyn, the wallpaper in the lobby is peeling by the yard. The walls themselves show cracks and holes, as if assaulted by a sledgehammer. The boiler is barely sputtering along and may not last the year. Since the hurricane, thousands of homeowners have been startled to discover that co-ops are largely barred from federal disaster assistance. The rules have stirred growing criticism from members of Congress from the region, who contend that the system fails to take into account how people live in New York City, where co-ops have flourished.
Charleston Post and Courier: Tim Scott says Mark Sanford “merits support” in 1st District race
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott backed Mark Sanford in the 1st District special election today, saying he “merits support.” In a statement from his Washington office, Scott, R-S.C., said Sanford is the “stark choice.” He did not mention Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch by name. “On all the most important issues facing our state and country, from dealing with our dangerous levels of debt, to repealing or resisting the government health care takeover, to standing up for Charleston jobs against the NLRB, 1st District voters have a stark choice,” Scott said. “Mark Sanford is hands down better on all of those issues, and that’s why I believe he merits support.”
Portland Press Herald: U.S. investigating accusations of LePage meddling
A lawyer representing the federal Department of Labor is in Maine to interview unemployment hearing officers and others who attended a controversial lunch meeting six weeks ago with Gov. Paul LePage. The lawyer, Leticia Sierra, planned to conduct interviews Wednesday and Thursday with the approximately 13 people who attended the March 21 gathering at the Blaine House, said Julie Rabinowitz, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Labor. The arrival of Sierra adds a new layer to the unfolding controversy over a meeting in which LePage and Jennifer Duddy, the governor's lone appointee to the state's Unemployment Compensation Commission, allegedly scolded unemployment hearing officers and pressured them to make more pro-business rulings in appeals decisions that determine whether workers receive benefits.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: About 170 Pennsylvania workers face layoffs
More than 100 workers at the state's Department of Labor and Industry will be losing their jobs later this month due to declining federal funds, according to department officials. The impacted workers will come from across the commonwealth, as well as across the department's three major divisions: workforce development, unemployment compensation and administration. The furloughs begin May 24. Originally 108 workers were slated to be furloughed. That number has dropped to 105 due to retirements, said Labor and Industry secretary Julia Hearthway.
CNN: Bangladeshi garment factories reopen following building collapse
Bangladesh's textile industry reopened Thursday after the trade group that represents it decided it was safe for garment workers to return to work. Garment factories in and around Dhaka, numbering close to 4,000, were closed for the past eight days following the catastrophic building collapse that killed more than 400 people in Savar on April 24. "Every day the factories are closed, we lose $25 million," said Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association. That would put the loss in revenue for the past days at $200 million.
CNN: Somalia famine killed 260,000 people, report says
Between 2010 and 2012, some 260,000 people died in the famine in Somalia - and the world was too slow to react, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia said Thursday. Half of those who died in the famine were children aged under 5, Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement. The report, jointly commissioned by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, is the first scientific study on deaths in the crisis.
CNN: Dagestan violence kills at least 5
Two children were killed Wednesday when a package they picked up exploded in a market in Makhashkala, the capital of Russia's North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, the government said. Initial reports attributed the explosion to a suicide bomber. Two others were injured in the blast. In a separate incident, three policemen were killed and two wounded after unknown assailants opened gun fire on their car in Buinaksk, another city in Dagestan, a spokesman for the local Investigation Committee said, according to the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.
CNN: India expresses 'anguish' over prisoner's death in Pakistan
India expressed "great anguish" on Thursday over the death of one of its citizens following an attack in a Pakistani jail, calling for an investigation into what happened. "This was, put simply, the killing of our citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities," the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement about the death of Sarabjit Singh, who had been held in a jail in the northeastern city of Lahore, near the Indian border. Singh had been on death row in Pakistan for more than two decades after he was convicted of carrying out bombings in Pakistani cities that killed 14 people, according to CNN sister network IBN. His family has maintained he is innocent.
Time: China’s Gays and Lesbians Join the Global Debate on Same-Sex Marriage
In a country where homosexuality was illegal until just 16 years ago and classed as a mental illness until 2001, advocates for gay rights in China complain that attitudes toward their community are years behind those in Western countries. But like their counterparts everywhere, Chinese gays and lesbians are fired up by the growing global debate on same-sex marriage. In late February, Beijing residents Ma Yuyu and her partner Elsie went to the Civil Affairs Bureau in the city’s Dongcheng district to try to register as a married couple. They had contacted local media ahead of their visit and a gaggle of journalists accompanied them. To no one’s surprise, their application was flatly rejected. “We knew we would fail, but we still wanted to do it anyway,” Ma tells TIME. The rejection of their marriage bid made headlines across the country.
Reuters: Pakistan, Afghan forces in high-stakes clash along border
An Afghan border policeman was killed and two Pakistani soldiers were wounded in an exchange of fire along the border late on Wednesday, officials from both countries said, a clash likely to unsettle already strained ties between the neighbors. A senior Afghan official said hundreds of additional Afghan troops were sent to a disputed border gate after the exchange of fire, which lasted for more than two hours. The stakes are high. The United States wants Pakistan to help Kabul lure the Taliban to the negotiating table ahead of the withdrawal of NATO combat troops by the end of 2014.
CNN: Bolivian President Evo Morales orders expulsion of USAID
Bolivian President Evo Morales said he is expelling the U.S. Agency for International Development from his country for allegedly meddling and conspiring against the government. "USAID is out; I ask the foreign minister to immediately communicate with the U.S. Embassy," Morales said in a speech Wednesday, according to the state-run ABI news agency. According to USAID's Bolivia website, the agency has operated there since 1964. It says it carries out health, sustainable development and environmental programs in the country. The agency says its 2011 budget for Bolivia was $26.7 million.
WaPo: SEC subpoenas firm, individuals in a case of leaked information
The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued subpoenas to a firm and individuals in connection with the leak last month of a federal funding decision that appeared to cause a surge in stock trading of several major health companies. The move deepens the government’s scrutiny of the growing “political intelligence” industry, which has been thriving on delivering valuable information from Washington to investors. This relatively new breed of companies capitalizes on the fact that decisions made in Washington — whether a regulator blocking a big merger or a lawmaker tweaking legislation — can create opportunities for stock traders to make money. The latest case emerged April 1 when Height Securities, a Washington-based stock brokerage firm, alerted its clients that the government would soon make a decision favoring private health insurers who participate in a Medicare program.
Fox News: Companies line up to drill after survey shows Dakota oil, gas fields far bigger
Energy companies are lining up for their shot to drill in the Dakotas and Montana after a new government report revealed that a massive geological formation stretching across the states contains twice the oil and three times the amount of natural gas than was originally believed. While the new estimate is drawing smaller companies to the game, the larger players like Schlumberger, Halliburton and Continental Resources are pushing forward with ambitious multi-year plans to stake their claim in the industry.
Bloomberg: Small Banks Seek Exemption in U.S. Collection of Fee Data
Small banks are pushing to be exempted from what they call an unneeded and overly burdensome U.S. data- collection effort to spot how consumers may be abused by checking account overdraft fees and other charges. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Federal Reserve on Feb. 21 proposed that banks add data about the fees to their required call report, a quarterly public accounting of their main assets and liabilities. The regulators said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needs the information to carry out its mandate to root out abusive practices in the industry.
Financial Times: Shell chief executive Peter Voser to leave in surprise move
Peter Voser is to step down as chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell next year after four years in the post, in a surprise move that could herald a period of uncertainty at the Anglo-Dutch oil major. The announcement was made as Shell unveiled first-quarter profit of $7.5bn, a 3 per cent increase on a year ago.