CNN Washington AM Note
May 13th, 2013
05:58 AM ET
2 years ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN Exclusive: CNN Exclusive: Brothers call Ariel Castro a 'monster'

Ariel Castro's brothers no longer refer to him as kin. Instead, they call him "a monster" who should rot in jail after being accused of kidnapping and holding three young women hostage in his home for a decade. "I had nothing to do with this, and I don't know how my brother got away with it for so many years," Pedro Castro, 54, said when he and brother Onil Castro, 50, sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Martin Savidge this weekend. When the story first broke, the world saw all three brothers as suspects after Cleveland police arrested them last Monday and released their mugshots. It was not until Thursday that Pedro and Onil Castro were freed and investigators said the brothers had no involvement in the kidnappings.

ALSO SEE: CNN: As Ohio women remained in captivity, alleged abductor's life crumbled

CNN: 19 injured in New Orleans parade shooting

Abdul Aziz believes he was standing right next to a shooter Sunday when gunmen opened fire at a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans, injuring 19 people. "Everyone around me, except me, was shot," he said. "I was pretty fortunate to get away." …According to police, 19 people were injured in the shooting, including two children. Ten men and seven women were among the victims. The children suffered graze wounds. Other injuries ranged from minor to severe. Shots were fired from different guns, and officers saw three suspects running from the scene, police said.

CNN: Brother of 8-year-old California girl arrested in her stabbing death

Detectives on Saturday arrested the 12-year-old brother of Leila Fowler on a homicide charge in connection with his 8-year-old sister's death, Calaveras County, California, Sheriff Gary Kuntz said. The brother - who Kuntz did not name, but did speak publicly after his sister's death - was arrested at 5:10 p.m. (8:10 p.m. ET) at a county sheriff's office substation in his hometown of Valley Springs, according to the sheriff.

CNN: Source: Russia withheld details about Tsarnaev

Russia withheld details from U.S. officials about suspicions of Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, information that could have altered the course authorities followed, a U.S. law enforcement official told CNN. While Russia did alert U.S. authorities about Tsarnaev's possible extremism, it kept out some facts, namely text messages referencing his desire to join a militant group, the source said. However, sources told the Wall Street Journal that the United States also likely would have withheld such details for fear of divulging intelligence sources and methods.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Sheriff: Tamerlan Tsarnaev's burial was handled properly

Fox News: You can own a piece of history - for as little as $50K

Federal officials at the General Services Administration are set to hawk an extraordinary item this week: a plane that once served as Air Force One. The plane flew every president from Ford to George W., VPs and VIPs - and it can be yours for as little as $50,000. “It's not often we get to sell a piece of history like this, but GSA Auctions is selling this plane that flew Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton & Bush (as well as the Vice-President, First Lady, Cabinet secretaries, 4-star generals, admirals, foreign dignitaries and more), writes a GSA official on the department’s Facebook page.

WaPo: Dangers found in lack of safety oversight for Medicare drug benefit

Ten years ago, a sharply divided Congress decided to pour billions of dollars into subsidizing the purchase of drugs by elderly and disabled Americans. The initiative, the biggest expansion of Medicare since its creation in 1965, proved wildly popular. It now serves more than 35 million people, delivering critical medicines to patients who might otherwise be unable to afford them. Its price tag is far lower than expected. But an investigation by ProPublica has found the program, in its drive to get drugs into patients’ hands, has failed to properly monitor safety. An analysis of four years of Medicare prescription records shows that some doctors and other health professionals across the country prescribe large quantities of drugs that are potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive for their patients. Federal officials have done little to detect or deter these hazardous prescribing patterns.

CNNMoney: Ex-Penn State president tops highest paid list

Presidents of public universities are taking home bigger paychecks, and a growing number are raking in more than $1 million. But Graham Spanier, the former head of Pennsylvania State University, who was fired amid a sex abuse scandal, takes the cake, earning $2.9 million in fiscal 2011-2012. The median pay package for public university presidents, including deferred compensation and other one-time payments, jumped 5% to $441,392 for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education analysis of 212 presidents at 191 institutions. Meanwhile, the median base salary rose 2% to $373,800.

WHITE HOUSE:

BBC: David Cameron arrives in US as Tory EU row rages

The prime minister has arrived in Washington for talks with US President Barack Obama as a fierce debate rages within his party about the UK's future within the European Union. David Cameron is expected to highlight the benefits to Britain of a trade agreement between Europe and the US. But the visit means he will miss a possible Commons vote over Conservative plans for a referendum on the EU. Two ministers have said they would opt to leave if a referendum were held now.

CAPITOL HILL:

WaPo: Green card lottery, a ticket to hope for many, could be eliminated

In the contentious debate over immigration policy, three groups have dominated public and political attention: the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants seeking to become legal, the skilled foreign workers bound for high-tech jobs and relatives waiting to be reunited with their families. Then there are those who won the green card lottery. This tiny visa program, aimed at diversifying the pool of immigrants to the United States, selects 55,000 applicants at random each year. Unlike the other U.S. visa programs, it offers the “winners” and their spouses and children U.S. residency with almost no strings attached. Although the odds of winning are infinitesimal, the program is so wildly popular that last year almost 8 million people applied. And now it is likely to be quietly cut.

ALSO SEE: Politico: A volatile mix: Health care and immigration reform

San Francisco Chronicle: Boxer's Israeli visa bill stirs backlash

The United States allows inhabitants of 37 countries to enter the United States without a visa, as long as they extend the same privilege to U.S. citizens. Sen. Barbara Boxer is proposing to add Israel to that list – but without requiring equal treatment for Americans traveling to Israel. Instead, the legislation the California Democrat has introduced would exempt Israeli visitors from visa requirements as long as the U.S. government certifies that Israel "has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the state of Israel," to admit Americans without a visa. What that means, according to critics of the Israeli government, is that Israel can continue to exclude Americans who are either Arab or Muslim, or who belong to groups that oppose Israeli policies. Requiring a visa for visitors allows the government to bar them from entering, or to limit their activities or the length of their stay.

CNN: Female veterans in Congress decry military’s handling of sexual assaults

The way the military has prosecuted sexual assaults within its ranks is deplorable, two congresswomen who have served in the armed forces said Sunday, calling for a new system for reporting those kinds of crimes. Reps. Tammy Duckworth and Tulsi Gabbard, both Democrats, said last week’s report indicating a 30% rise in the number of service members anonymously reporting sexual assaults was an indication the military’s leadership has failed in its duty to protect members of the armed forces.

POLITICAL:

CNN: Sanford will work with GOP, despite campaign abandonment

After soon-to-be congressman Mark Sanford is sworn into office this week, he’ll begin working with the national Republican Party, despite their campaign wing’s decision to pull out of his race just weeks ahead of the May 7 vote. “I think always past is past, and I look forward to working with the entire Republican team,” Sanford said on “Fox News Sunday.” After his ex-wife filed a criminal complaint accusing him of trespassing at her beach home in April, the National Republican Congressional Committee said they would no longer support Sanford in his bid for a political comeback in South Carolina.

Politico: GOP, Koch brothers find there’s nothing finer than Carolina

The GOP lost big nationally in 2012, but may have found the key to future success in one southern state. Cash from groups backed by the Koch brothers and others helped North Carolina Republicans build a robust conservative infrastructure and fundraising network, leading to the GOP winning both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature in the same year for the first time since Reconstruction. That takeover didn’t come overnight, but it caught Democrats by surprise, especially since Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and lost only by 2 percentage points last year.

WaPo: Sen. Rand Paul aggressively courting evangelicals to win over GOP establishment

Earlier this spring, Sen. Rand Paul and his wife, Kelley, invited a crew from the Christian Broadcasting Network into their Kentucky home for what turned into two full days of reality TV. In a half-hour special, “At Home With Rand Paul,” the couple are seen bird-watching in the woods, going to McDonald’s and, especially, talking about religion — their belief in traditional marriage and the senator’s call for a “spiritual cleansing” in America. The show was an unusual moment for Paul, who has gained fame as a live-and-let-live tea-party hero closely aligned with the libertarian movement inspired by his father, former representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.) — and not as a social conservative. For the past few months, though, Paul has aggressively courted evangelicals, not only with the CBN special but also with a trip to Israel, numerous events with pastors and a handful of appearances in Iowa this weekend.

Politico: Nikki Haley's rocky governorship

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley rode into office in 2011 on a Republican wave as the first female and first Indian-American governor of the state — a rising GOP star with national potential. Two-and-a-half bruising years later, she has a fight on her hands just to get reelected. After winning a nasty 2010 primary with heavy tea party support and Sarah Palin’s blessing, Haley encountered the complex realities of governing without the full support of her own party. A hacking scandal that exposed millions of taxpayers’ financial data, her contentious dealings with the legislature, and high unemployment in the Palmetto State have taken a toll on the 41-year-old’s popularity.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

CNN: Obama administration e-mails raise new questions on Benghazi

An e-mail discussion about talking points the Obama administration used to describe the deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, show the White House and State Department were more involved than they first said in the decision to remove an initial CIA assessment that a group with ties to al Qaeda was involved, according to CNN sources with knowledge of the e-mails. The unclassified talking points have become a political flashpoint in a long-running battle between the administration and Republicans, who say that officials knew the attack last September 11 was a planned terror operation while they were telling the public it was an act of violence that grew out of a demonstration over a video produced in the United States that insulted Islam.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Republicans walk fine line when targeting Clinton in Benghazi probe

WSJ: GOP Probes Deeper Into Benghazi Review

House Republicans on Monday plan to take another step in a widening Benghazi investigation, by asking leaders of an independent review board to agree to be questioned about their investigation of last year's attacks in Libya. The formal request, to be submitted in letters on Monday, comes as GOP lawmakers move to discredit the investigation by the Accountability Review Board, a panel appointed under federal law last year by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to size up the adequacy of U.S. security measures and preparations at the diplomatic mission that was overrun in the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist assault.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Pickering defends Benghazi report, says criticisms not based in fact

Reuters: North Korea names another new armed forces minister

North Korea has replaced the hardline general who headed its armed forces ministry, in a further reshuffling of the top brass by young leader Kim Jong-un. General Jang Jong-nam was named "minister of the People's Armed Forces" by state news agency KCNA in a report, the third official to take the role since Kim Jong-un formally assumed power in North Korea just over a year ago. Jang, a relatively unknown general, was previously commander of the First Corps of the Korean People's Army.

ALSO SEE: ABC: Dennis Rodman Plans New North Korea Trip, Hopes to Secure Release of Detained

NYT: Afghans Say an American Tortured Civilians

The authorities in Afghanistan are seeking the arrest on murder and torture charges of a man they say is an American and part of a Special Forces unit operating in Wardak Province, three Afghan officials have confirmed. The accusations against the man, Zakaria Kandahari, and the assertion that he and much of his unit are American are a new turn in a dispute over counterinsurgency tactics in Wardak that has strained relations between Kabul and Washington. American officials say their forces are being wrongly blamed for atrocities carried out by a rogue Afghan unit. But the Afghan officials say they have substantial evidence of American involvement.

AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

Daily Telegraph: Cameron in terror summit with FBI

The Prime Minister will visit the FBI headquarters in Washington with Andrew Parker, the new MI5 director, after holding talks with President Obama on Syria and a new trade agreement. Mr Cameron will then go to Boston to learn about the American response to the bombs that killed three people. … Mr Cameron asked for a meeting with Robert Mueller, the head of the FBI, after the Boston bombings last month.

CNN: IRS officials knew of agents’ tea party targeting in 2011

Officials at the Internal Revenue Service knew in June 2011 that their agents were targeting conservative groups for additional scrutiny on tax documents, an inspector general report to be released this week is expected to say, according to a congressional source familiar with the inquiry. Further, an early timeline of events compiled by the inspector general and obtained by CNN indicates the agency's practice of singling out conservative groups began as early as March 2010, and in July of that year, unidentified managers within the agency "requested its specialists to be on the lookout for tea party applications." In August, specialists were warned to be on the lookout for "various local organizations in the tea party movement" applying for tax-exempt status. The specific criteria would change several times over the next two years, according to a portion of the report.

ALSO SEE: BuzzFeed: Pro-Israel Group Sees “Same Conduct” In IRS’s Tea Party Campaign

WATCH: VIDEO – Republicans plan to press the White House over disclosure that the IRS targeted tea party groups. Dan Lothian reports. 

Bloomberg: Gay-Marriage Letdown Looms as High Court Weighs Narrow Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court fight over California’s Proposition 8, viewed by gay-rights advocates as a historic opportunity to establish same-sex marriage nationwide, may not even settle the issue in the state. The justices, who probably will rule next month, signaled during the March 26 argument that they might sidestep the underlying constitutional questions and decide that the defenders of the 2008 gay-marriage ban lacked “standing,” or legal eligibility, to bring the case. That could leave the status of gay marriage in California in doubt, spawn new litigation and perhaps even prompt another ballot initiative.

CNNMoney: U.S. probes Barclays over ties to Saudi prince

Barclays and a Saudi prince are at the center of a U.S. Department of Justice probe into whether the U.K. bank made improper payments in the middle east kingdom. The DOJ is investigating whether Barclays paid illicit fees to Prince Turki Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, through his corporate entity, Al Obayya. The federal agency informed Barclays that it had commenced an investigation to see if it had violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in October 2012, a spokeswoman for the bank confirmed. U.S. federal law prohibits companies from paying bribes to foreign political figures for the purpose of obtaining business.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

Richmond Times Dispatch: Richmond Tea Party leader says his group was targeted

The executive director of the Richmond Tea Party said Saturday that his organization is among those that was improperly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. Laurence Nordvig said members of his organization had become suspicious during protracted questioning over a two-year period in which the group was trying to qualify for nonprofit status, which it was eventually awarded. “For a period of two years, IRS officials intentionally obstructed our organization’s attempts to qualify for a simple nonprofit status, at the cost of hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars,” he said in a statement.

Boston Herald: Newt Gingrich to Gabriel Gomez: Avoid national pols

Former U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich has funneled $5,000 into U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez’s campaign coffers, but the conservative lightning rod told the Truth Squad yesterday that Gomez should steer clear of national GOP pols like himself while campaigning in the deep blue Bay State. “I think as a conservative, I wouldn’t be an asset,” said Gingrich, who nonetheless made Gomez the recipient of his debut donation from his new political action committee, the American Legacy PAC, last week. “He has to run as a Navy SEAL and not as a Republican candidate,” Gingrich said. The former 2012 Republican presidential primary contender quickly acknowledged that any link to his own deep conservative values could be an albatross to a Bay State GOP candidate facing off against U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey in the deeply Democratic state.

Detroit Free Press: Detroit's 45-day report: Orr calls city 'dysfunctional and wasteful' after years of mismanagement, corruption

Detroit will finish its current budget year with a $162-million cash-flow shortfall and doubts about the financial health of its pension funds, according to a new report by the city’s emergency manager that lays out the financial free fall in stark detail. The report, mandated by the state after an emergency manager’s first 45 days in office, confirms a city in desperate shape, with costs for retiree benefits eating up a third of its budget and public services suffering as Detroit’s revenues and population shrink each year. That has led to deferment of payments and an accumulated deficit that would exceed $600 million were it not for borrowing practices the city has used to cover shortfalls.

Denver Post: Judge likely to allow James Holmes insanity plea in theater shooting

It is likely, but not guaranteed, that when Aurora movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes appears in court Monday, the judge overseeing the case will allow Holmes to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Under Colorado law, insanity pleas must be entered at arraignment — a hearing in Holmes' case that took place in March. At that time, a judge entered a not guilty plea to the charges on Holmes' behalf after his attorneys refused to enter a plea.

INTERNATIONAL:

CNN: South Korean president apologizes for scandal over spokesman in U.S.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye apologized Monday for a damaging scandal involving a spokesman she fired last week over allegations of sexual misconduct in the United States. The former aide, Yoon Chang-jung, is accused of making inappropriate advances toward a female student who was hired as a guide while Yoon was in Washington for Park's first official visit to the United States last week. "I am very sorry that an unsavory incident, which a public official should never be involved in, happened near the end of my visit to the U.S. and hugely disappointed the people," Park said Monday at a meeting with senior officials. It was the first time she has commented publicly on the matter.

BBC: Pakistan election: Sharif poised to take over as PM

Nawaz Sharif appears on course to secure a majority in Pakistan's parliament and form the next government after claiming victory in Saturday's election. Unofficial results suggest his Pakistan Muslim League has won easily, though he has reportedly opened talks with independents to guarantee a majority. He has already been congratulated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. US President Barack Obama also pledged to work with the new administration. Mr Sharif is set to become prime minister for the third time. Former cricketer Imran Khan, whose Movement for Justice Party (PTI) is in a close fight for second place, has promised to provide genuine opposition.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Attack targeting police chief kills 5 in Pakistan

CNN: Turkey detains 9, alleges Syrian link to car bombings

Funeral prayers echoed across a small Turkish town Sunday after a pair of car bombings that killed dozens of people, an attack that government officials are blaming on Syria. The families of the dead huddled under umbrellas in the town cemetery to lay their loved ones to rest, while others cried in the middle of streets still strewn with broken glass and twisted metal. Nine Turkish citizens were being held in Saturday's bombings in Reyhanli, along the Syrian border. But Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the people behind the bombings "were in contact with pro-Syrian regime Al Muhabarat (Syrian Intelligence Services) organization in Syria."

CNN: Bangladeshi officials to end search for survivors; death toll reaches 1,127

After 19 days searching through mounds of concrete, authorities believe there is no chance of finding any more survivors from a collapsed factory building in Bangladesh. As of Monday, 1,127 bodies had been pulled from the rubble where a nine-story building once stood. The army-led recovery operation is winding down, and authorities are expecting to officially end recovery efforts by Tuesday, Bangladeshi Army Capt. Ibrahim Islam said. Authorities decided to taper off the search because they are finding fewer and fewer bodies each day. At the height of the efforts, they were pulling out about 100 bodies a day.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Bangladesh's improbable survivor making progress

CNN: 686 presidential candidates try to succeed Ahmadinejad in Iran

Hundreds of candidates are vying to become Iran's next president, with hopefuls ranging from friends to foes of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A total of 686 candidates have registered for the June election, Iran's state-run Press TV reported. Ahmadinejad is term-limited and cannot run for a third straight term.

But other big names are in the mix, including Ahmadinejad's top aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Jerusalem Post: Germany and Israel both up for UN Security Council

Jerusalem is miffed at Germany’s decision to vie for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2019, a move which would weaken Israel’s already distant chances of sitting on that influential body for the first time, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Israel’s and Germany’s respective candidacies will be raised when Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrives in Israel on Friday.

Financial Times: Schäuble warns EU bank rescue agency needs treaty changes

Germany’s finance minister has warned that a single EU bailout agency and rescue fund for ailing banks is legally untenable until the bloc’s treaties have been overhauled. In today’s Financial Times, Wolfgang Schäuble calls for a “two-step approach” that would leave bank rescues in the hands of “a network of” national authorities until treaty changes can take place. Mr Schäuble’s declaration comes just weeks before the European Commission is due to present its plan for a single bank resolution agency and rescue fund – widely touted as the second pillar in the eurozone’s much-vaunted “banking union” – throwing the proposal into doubt even before it is unveiled.

Financial Times: Senior Chinese official investigated in graft crackdown

A senior official in China's economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, has become the latest target of Beijing's crackdown on excess and corruption. Xinhua, the state news agency, reported on Sunday that Liu Tienan, a vice-chairman of the agency, was under investigation for alleged "grave violations of discipline" brought to light by a whistleblower. Mr Liu was also head of China's energy regulatory body until March. The news agency cited the Communist party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection as the source for a brief report that gave no further information about Mr Liu's alleged violations.

BUSINESS:

WSJ: A Top Contender at the Fed Faces Test Over Easy Money

The next chief of the Federal Reserve will decide when to reverse the easy-money policies of Ben Bernanke, a judgment that could strangle the economic recovery if made too early or trigger runaway inflation if made too late. The task could fall to Fed vice-chairwoman Janet Yellen, a meticulous and demanding Yale-trained economist, who issued prescient, early warnings about the housing bust. After the financial crisis, she helped focus the Fed on jobless Americans, with policies aimed at stimulating the economy at least until unemployment falls to 6.5%. Ms. Yellen is a top contender for the job, assuming Mr. Bernanke steps down when his term ends in January, but her selection is far from certain. She faces a big question among investors: Is she wary enough about the risks of easy money to close the Fed's credit spigot before financial bubbles emerge or consumer prices rise too far? As a first step, Fed officials have mapped out a strategy that maintains flexibility for winding down its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program intended to spur the economy. But the timing of the withdrawal is still being debated.

CNNMoney: China's debt: a crisis in the making?

The world's second largest economy has a debt problem. China's credit boom has saddled unworthy businesses with large loans, fueled the country's shadow banking system and put local governments on the hook for billions. Swiss bank UBS calculates that central government debt was equal to 15% of the economy at the end of 2012. That number spikes to 55% when debt racked up by local governments and agencies is included. If corporate and household debt is also counted, China's total debt load balloons to more than 200% of gross domestic product.

NYT: Chinese Creating New Auto Niche Within Detroit

Dozens of companies from China are putting down roots in Detroit, part of the country’s steady push into the American auto industry. Chinese-owned companies are investing in American businesses and new vehicle technology, selling everything from seat belts to shock absorbers in retail stores, and hiring experienced engineers and designers in an effort to soak up the talent and expertise of domestic automakers and their suppliers. While starting with batteries and auto parts, the spread of Chinese business is expected to result eventually in the sale of Chinese cars in the United States.

NYT: Cyberattacks on the Rise Against U.S. Corporations

A new wave of cyberattacks is striking American corporations, prompting warnings from federal officials, including a vague one issued last week by the Department of Homeland Security. This time, officials say, the attackers’ aim is not espionage but sabotage, and the source seems to be somewhere in the Middle East. The targets have primarily been energy companies, and the attacks appeared to be probes, looking for ways to seize control of their processing systems. The attacks are continuing, officials said. But two senior administration officials said Sunday that they were still not certain exactly where the attacks were coming from, or whether they were state-sponsored or the work of hackers or criminals.

CNNMoney: Bloomberg apologizes to clients for data snooping

The editor in chief of Bloomberg News said Monday that reporters working for the company's news division should never have been allowed to access otherwise restricted client data. Allegations surfaced last week that Bloomberg reporters have long enjoyed access to some client data via the company's ubiquitous financial data terminals. The practice was largely unknown outside Bloomberg, and presumably gave the company's reporters an advantage over competitors. "Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable," the publication's top editor, Matthew Winkler, wrote in an op-ed published on Bloomberg's website.

 


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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Politico: Nikki Haley's rocky governorship
    ----------------------
    Scandals, high unemployment, lack of bipartisanship and unwillingness to work with Democrats. Haley is a dedicated and respected politician within Republican circles.

    May 13, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |