CNN Washington AM Note
May 17th, 2013
05:51 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: 7 still missing from deadly Texas tornadoes

A North Texas community forged ahead in a massive cleanup, and the search for the missing continued Friday from 16 tornadoes that ripped through the area. That search for seven people still missing is still active, a local sheriff said. "We're going to keep on looking," Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds said Thursday. "We're not going to give up until every piece of debris is turned over."  The seven-hour onslaught of twisters, 16 confirmed so far according to the National Weather Service, battered the area Wednesday, turning neighborhoods into rubble and leaving six people dead.

CNN: Cause of catastrophic Texas explosions remains mystery

Investigators have not ruled out an intentional fire being behind explosions at a fertilizer plant in the small town of West that left 15 people dead, the Texas fire marshal said Thursday. State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said investigators were unable to rule out three possible causes, including a spark from a golf cart, an electrical short or an intentionally set fire. "The cause cannot be proven to an acceptable level," Connealy told reporters.

CNN: Suspect: Boston bombing was payback for hits on Muslims

Boston Marathon bombing victims were collateral damage in a strike meant as payback for U.S. wars in Muslim lands, the surviving suspect wrote in a message scribbled on the boat where he was found hiding, a law enforcement source told CNN Thursday. In the message, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also proclaimed that an attack on one Muslim is an attack on all, and said he would not miss older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev - who died after a firefight with police three days after the bombing - because he would soon be joining him, according to the source. The writing on the inside of the boat dovetails with what Dzhokhar, 19, told investigators questioning him in a Boston hospital room shortly after his capture, the source said. CNN has previously cited U.S. officials in reporting that Dzhokhar said U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq were motivating factors behind the April 15 attack, which killed three people and wounded 275.

WSJ: Victim-Aid Overhaul Pushed

A push to create a single donation fund to benefit victims of future mass attacks in the U.S. is gaining momentum: A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit is offering to establish a "National Compassion Fund" that would begin to solicit money within a day of violent events such as the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and the Boston bombings. It is a step forward for an idea that families connected to some of the nation's worst massacres began advocating in March. A group of 70 relatives of shooting victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and others launched the effort after sharing tales of what they say is an agonizing process of dealing with ad hoc funds that crop up after such tragedies.

WHITE HOUSE:

Baltimore Sun: Amid scandal, Obama will focus on jobs in Baltimore

President Barack Obama will visit Baltimore on Friday looking to draw attention back to his jobs agenda as he juggles a growing number of political scandals that have threatened to complicate his second term. Making his first trip to the city since he appeared at a series of fundraisers last June, Obama is scheduled to visit an elementary school before touring a 128-year-old dredging equipment company — stops intended to underscore the administration's efforts on early-childhood education and manufacturing. "The president is trying to do as he should do: Focus on jobs," said Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Southern Maryland Democrat and House minority whip. "We can deal with the daily flow of missteps and things that are done wrong while at the same time focusing on the big issues."

BuzzFeed: Keystone Politics Follow Obama On Baltimore Jobs Tour

President Obama is heading to Baltimore Friday for what the White House is billing as “his second Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.” The brief trip out of DC may also prove to be a detour into the politics of Keystone, which have caused deep divisions in the Democratic base. Obama is scheduled to make a stop at Ellicott Dredges Friday, just a day after Ellicott president Peter Bowe testified before a Congressional subcommittee and called on Washington to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. Bowe testified on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers Thursday before a subcommittee of the House Committee On Small Business at a hearing about Keystone. He called on the federal government to build the pipeline, telling the subcommittee that the pipeline is a job creator. He said the project would create longterm employment for workers in the dredging sector.

Politico: What would Dick Cheney do?

It took him a day or two to get started, but President Barack Obama this week signaled that he is going to follow the conventional Washington playbook for trying to tamp down scandal. He has furrowed his brow, sacked an agency head, pledged transparency and cooperation with official inquiries and piously declared that no one is more troubled than him about any wrongdoing. There’s no indication that Obama and his aides have paused to ponder the WWCD test: What Would Cheney Do? The former vice president, through years of public statements and internal deliberations during the Bush administration, fashioned a distinctly different school of thought about how to operate in the midst of a Washington storm. That philosophy, in a word: defiance.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Obama counter-punches in effort to regain political balance

Fox: Second court invalidates Obama appointments to labor board

A national labor board which has long been accused of making union-friendly decisions was dealt another blow Thursday, after a second federal appeals court found President Obama exceeded his power when he bypassed the Senate to appoint its members. The ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia once again threatened to upend the National Labor Relations Board's decisions. And it has the potential to stall the board entirely, as well as challenge other federal agencies that have similar appointees. For now, the Obama administration has tried to disregard the court decisions - it has already appealed a similar ruling, from a Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to the Supreme Court.

WSJ: Obama Nominee Received $54 Million Offshore Payment

President Barack Obama's pick for commerce secretary, Penny Pritzker, received $54 million last year from an offshore account held by her family, according to new documents that shed additional light on the nominee's vast wealth. The payment, disclosed in White House documents sent to Congress this week, was tied to Ms. Pritzker's work dividing her family's assets to settle a well-publicized dispute, according to her office in Chicago. Ms. Pritzker, a Chicago business executive, paid income taxes on the payment, the office said. The payment doesn't indicate Ms. Pritzker did anything unethical. But it could provide fuel for congressional Republicans, including Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, who have criticized the nominee over her family's use of offshore accounts. Mr. Obama's re-election campaign criticized GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney last year over his offshore holdings.

CAPITOL HILL:

CNN: House group agrees on immigration reform

After months of intense negotiations, a bipartisan U.S. House group has reached an "agreement in principle" on immigration reform, according to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, one of the GOP members of the group. A Democratic aide familiar with the discussions confirmed that all the members signed on and told CNN both Democrats and Republicans "will now run the whole package past their respective leadership and colleagues" and aim to formally introduce legislation at the beginning of June. Diaz-Balart declined to get into the details of the deal, but said, "there's going to be a lot of differences in a lot of areas," from a bipartisan measure working its way through the Senate.

Fox: ICE admits hundreds of illegal immigrants with criminal records released

Hundreds of illegal immigrants with criminal records were released earlier this year as the Obama administration prepared for budget cuts, according to newly released data that challenged claims the program involved "low-risk" individuals.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement released the figures to two top senators, after a three-month delay and under the threat of congressional subpoenas.  Of the 2,226 detainees that were released in February, the department revealed, "622 have been identified as having some type of criminal conviction." A statement from Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., who received the stats, said 32 of them had multiple felony convictions. The department then "re-apprehended" 24 of those, the senators said, after realizing the "seriousness" of their crimes.  McCain called for those responsible to be punished.

NYT: G.O.P., Energized, Weighs How Far to Take Inquiries

The investigations ensnaring the White House have unified the Republican Party, energized a political base shattered by election losses and given common purpose to lawmakers divided over a legislative agenda. The most pressing question for Congressional Republicans is no longer how to finesse changes to immigration law or gun control, but how far they can push their cases against President Obama without inciting a backlash of the sort that has left them staggering in the past.

ALSO SEE: Politico: Why the GOP thinks it could blow it

Politico: GOP looks at big cuts for Labor, Education, HHS

House Republicans late Thursday began circulating new spending targets for appropriations bills for the coming year with Labor, Education and Health and Human Services facing a nearly 20 percent reduction on top of the cuts already made in the March 1 sequestration order. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) appears to be backloading the larger reductions in order to salvage a few of the 12 annual bills this summer. He is putting a priority on what he sees as security items, including law enforcement and homeland security as well as the military. But the numbers are a prescription for more stalemate unless the House and Senate leadership begin to get more serious about budget negotiations with one another and President Barack Obama.

POLITICAL:

CNN: Key lawmaker says IRS problems go beyond embattled chief

Internal Revenue Service chief Steven Miller may have been among the first people to be blamed for a scandal now consuming the agency and buffeting the Obama administration, but at least one powerful House Republican is confident he won't be the last. "This isn't just going to end up being just one person's responsibility," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp told CNN on Thursday in an exclusive interview. "This is a group of people. Decisions are going to be made with lots of sign off." "We're going to need to find out to what extent others knew, and why really this whole policy was implemented," the Michigan congressman said. Camp will lead a committee hearing on Friday examining recent IRS targeting of conservative groups applying for federal tax-exempt status.

ALSO SEE: CNN: By the Numbers: Internal Revenue Service

ALSO SEE: CNN: Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman will testify next week

CNN: Health care official used to lead IRS tax exempt office

Republicans using the Internal Revenue Service scandal to slam health care reform have a new twist in their argument. Sarah Hall Ingram, who heads the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at the IRS, formerly led the agency's tax exempt/government entities division, the same division that's now taking heat for targeting conservative groups in the past few years. An IRS spokesperson confirmed Ingram is the current director of the Affordable Care Act office, a department she’s worked in since December 2010. Meanwhile, a 2009 posting on the IRS website referred to her as the commissioner for the tax exempt/government entities division.

ALSO SEE: CNN: IRS scandal adds fuel to Obamacare fire

CNN: Probing questions, long delays for tea party groups

Tea party groups describe an arduous IRS application process for tax-exempt status with probing questions and long delays. In addition to standard questions that organizations face when applying for tax-exempt status, a handful of tea party organizations told CNN they were asked probing questions about the websites they maintained, literature they use for research and future activities the groups had planned. The IRS scandal over how it processed tax-exempt applications from tea party and conservative groups has already cost the acting director his job and caused lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to call for an extensive investigation about how the prejudicial screening was allowed to happen.

ALSO SEE: CNNMoney: "Overworked" IRS unit treated like a "stepsister"

Richmond Times Dispatch: Letters show top IRS official knew of targeting

A top Internal Revenue Service official knew last year that the Richmond Tea Party was the target of extra scrutiny and reminded the Richmond organization to comply with requests for information, according to IRS letters. In March 2012, the Richmond group received two letters signed by Lois G. Lerner, the agency’s director of exempt organizations, following up on the status of their applications for tax-exempt status. Lerner’s letters to the Richmond Tea Party contradict claims in a recent inspector general’s report that the improper targeting was just a low-level effort and that she attempted to avert it.

Politico: Huma Abedin allowed to represent clients while at State

Huma Abedin — Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide and the wife of all-but-declared New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner — spent her final months at the State Department working as a part-time consultant with the agency who at the same time was allowed to represent outside clients, POLITICO has confirmed. Abedin, a fixture at the Clintons’ side for at least 15 years — from Iowa to Indonesia — shifted to her new role after maternity leave in the early summer of 2012, according to a source familiar with the arrangement. The new status made her a “special government employee,” which was tantamount to being a consultant, according to the source, whose information was confirmed by two other staffers familiar with the matter. Multiple sources told POLITICO Abedin did work for other clients, which a friend of Abedin said totaled four, including the State Department, Hillary Clinton, the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation and Teneo, the firm co-founded by former Bill Clinton counselor Doug Band.

NYT: Weiner’s Wife Didn’t Disclose Consulting Work She Did While Serving in State Dept.

CNN: Rick Santorum preparing for 2016 run, but hasn't pulled the trigger

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said he is weighing another run for president. "I'm planning on doing everything consistent with putting yourself in a position to make a decision that is a viable decision," said Santorum, who gave Mitt Romney some trouble in the 2012 Republican primary fight. "I haven't pulled any triggers yet, but certainly we're out there," he said. Santorum said he has been traveling all over the country with his organization "Patriot Voices."

The Hill: Rep. Noem in 'conversations' about potential Senate bid in South Dakota

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) is discussing the possibility of mounting a Senate campaign in 2014, telling The Hill she's had "some conversations" with groups about running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tim Johnson (D). Noem said she doesn't expect to make a decision for "several months" on whether she'd challenge former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds in the Republican primary.

USA Today: John Edwards to speak at retreat for lawyers

Former presidential candidate John Edwards is about to hit the speaking circuit, about a year after he was acquitted by a North Carolina jury on a campaign-finance charge. Edwards will speak June 6 at a retreat for clients of PMP Marketing, a company that helps boost the visibility of law firms. The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee has largely stayed out of public view since his trial last year.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

WSJ: Russia Raises Stakes in Syria

Russia has sent a dozen or more warships to patrol waters near its naval base in Syria, a buildup that U.S. and European officials see as a newly aggressive stance meant partly to warn the West and Israel not to intervene in Syria's bloody civil war. Russia's expanded presence in the eastern Mediterranean, which began attracting U.S. officials' notice three months ago, represents one of its largest sustained naval deployments since the Cold War. While Western officials say they don't fear an impending conflict with Russia's aged fleet, the presence adds a new source of potential danger for miscalculation in an increasingly combustible region. "It is a show of force. It's muscle flexing," a senior U.S. defense official said of the Russian deployments. "It is about demonstrating their commitment to their interests."

ALSO SEE: NYT: Russia Sends More Advanced Missiles to Aid Assad in Syria

CNN: Obama administration regroups to counter Benghazi criticism

Buffeted by Republican criticism for its handling of last September's deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the Obama administration is mounting a coordinated response. Thursday, at a Rose Garden news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Barack Obama went out of his way to challenge Republicans to fully fund security for America's diplomats. Republicans have ripped the administration for not providing adequate security for the Benghazi mission at which four Americans, including Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were killed. The White House, in response, has accused Republican lawmakers of cutting diplomatic security funding.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Rand Paul: Hillary’s 'fingerprints' all over talking points

Weekly Standard: What About the Video?

From the beginning, there have been two big questions about the administration’s deceptive spin on Benghazi: How were the talking points whittled down to virtually nothing from the CIA’s original draft? And how did a previously obscure YouTube video gain such prominence in the administration’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi? The emails fill in at least some of the details about the talking points. They also leave in ruins administration claims that White House and State Department officials were mere bystanders in the process. But how, exactly, the video became so prominent in the administration’s public rhetoric remains something of a mystery.

CNN: Obama: Pentagon leaders 'ashamed' over sexual assaults plaguing military

U.S. military leaders are "angry" and "ashamed" over sexual assaults plaguing the armed forces, President Barack Obama said Thursday after ordering top Pentagon officials to "leave no stone unturned" in the effort to stop the abuse. The president's comments came the same day legislation was introduced in Congress to ease the victims' quest for justice, a move that followed news this month of two high-profile cases involving sexual assault in the military - allegedly by the very service members tasked with preventing such crimes. Obama summoned Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told the two that it was imperative they find a solution to the abuse that is undermining trust in the military.

Bloomberg: Pentagon Said to Seek $80 Billion for War Amid Withdrawal

The Pentagon will ask Congress to approve about $79.5 billion for combat operations, the least since 2005, as U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, according to administration officials. The proposal for war operations, which aren’t included in the main Pentagon budget, may be submitted as soon as today, said the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the funding request before it’s presented. War spending soared in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, peaking at $187 billion in fiscal 2008, when the U.S. had 166,300 troops in Iraq during the “surge” under President George W. Bush

CNN: New issue of al Qaeda magazine may have been hacked

A purported new issue of an English-language al Qaeda magazine linked to the Boston terrorist attacks was posted on an al Qaeda web forum earlier this week, but its content beyond its cover page was scrambled, suggesting the possibility the forum was hacked by Western intelligence agencies. The magazine, produced by al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate – al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which regularly includes how-to instructions for followers to carry out terrorist attacks in the West – has received significant scrutiny in recent weeks. Investigators believe that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev accessed Inspire magazine, and the material had instructions on bomb-making, a law enforcement official told CNN earlier this month.

CNN: NY cigarette-smuggling ring may have terror link

A cigarette smuggling scheme that cost New York state millions of dollars in sales tax revenue may have raised funds for militant groups, authorities said. Sixteen Palestinian men, some with ties to convicted terrorists, were indicted Thursday in the alleged scheme that spans New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey states. Investigators say they uncovered $55 million in illegal cigarette sales. Although it is unclear where the illicit proceeds ended up, similar schemes have funded organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Ray Kelly, commissioner of the New York Police Department.

Christian Science Monitor: Iran's chief nuclear negotiator: we're being asked to make all the sacrifices

Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and a presidential candidate, says that offers from six world powers demand far more short-term sacrifices of his government than the Islamic Republic considers reasonable or reciprocal. The current offer from the so-called P5+1 group (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) requires Iran to suspend all 20 percent uranium enrichment, disable an impregnable underground enrichment facility at Fordow, and agree to more intrusive inspections, before modest relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy. “Their proposals are unbalanced,” Mr. Jalili told The Christian Science Monitor in an Istanbul interview today, a day after his inconclusive meeting with Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief who leads negotiations for the P5+1.

AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

WaPo: FBI seeks source of prostitution, corruption allegations against Sen. Robert Menendez

A pair of FBI agents met on a recent weekday morning with brothers Alfonso “Alfy” and Jose “Pepe” Fanjul in the Palm Beach headquarters of their sugar and real estate empire. The investigators’ questions struck a discordant note in the Fanjuls’ sunlit offices overlooking a yacht-filled waterway, according to three people familiar with the meeting: Were the brothers or any of their associates familiar with a plot to bring down a United States senator? Months after the FBI began probing allegations against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), investigators are looking at whether someone set out to smear him while he was running for reelection last year and then ascending to his new post as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to four people briefed on the inquiry.

CNN: Uzbek terror suspect to appear in court

A 30-year-old Uzbek national who has been arrested on federal terrorism charges is expected to make an initial appearance in a Boise, Idaho, court on Friday. A grand jury in Boise returned a three-court indictment charging Fazliddin Kurbanov, 30, with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and one count of possessing an unregistered destructive device. A grand jury in Salt Lake City, Utah, returned a separate indictment charging him with one count of distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

CNN: Feds investigate ricin-tainted letters in Spokane, Washington

Federal authorities are investigating threatening letters allegedly containing deadly ricin in Spokane, Washington, the FBI said Thursday. The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are trying to find the source of the two letters, intercepted Tuesday during a screening procedure at a postal facility in Spokane, FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich said. "While we cannot offer further comment on this incident, we stress that law enforcement agencies will continue to assess and address the full spectrum of potential threats," she said. The American Postal Workers Union was notified of the two suspicious letters by the Postal Service, the union said.

CNN: Pretzel bag leads feds to child porn suspect in California

In a fast-moving child abuse investigation that started two weeks ago in Denmark, U.S. officials this week arrested a suspect in northern California and are now trying to determine whether there are additional child victims. Federal authorities Thursday said they had arrested David John Stevens, 58, of Salinas, and believe him to be the man in four videos allegedly depicting sexual assaults on a young girl. The girl, officials said, has been identified and protected. But based on interviews with witnesses, authorities "believe there may be additional unidentified child victims," the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said.

ABC: Gold Shipment Vanishes in Mysterious Miami Airport Heist

A $625,000 gold shipment vanished early Tuesday in a brazen heist at Miami International Airport after it arrived aboard a jet from Ecuador, police said. As the FBI confirmed it was leading the hunt for the crooks, the pool of suspects narrowed to the few who had authorized access to the bulk cargo area, federal and police officials with knowledge of the case told ABC News on Thursday. The gold was spread among six boxes unloaded from American Airlines Flight 902, which arrived at 4:42 a.m. Tuesday morning from Guayaquil, Ecuador, according to a Miami-Dade Police Department incident report.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ATF agents conducting sting let man leave store with gun

ATF agents let a man armed with a gun and threatening to shoot someone walk out of their storefront sting operation in Milwaukee last summer, failing to arrest him or take the weapon, the Journal Sentinel has learned. The suspect, Bobby Ball – a felon with a violent history – promised to return to the store and sell the agents that gun and others but he never came back, according to sources familiar with the case. Instead he spent four months on the loose, until he was picked up in Minnesota on a drunken-driving arrest. He is now awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to selling drugs to the undercover agents. It's unclear if the gun was later used in any crime or if it has been recovered. Ball has not been charged in any shootings in Wisconsin following the encounter with the ATF. The "gun-walking" incident is the latest failure to be revealed in the flawed "Operation Fearless" sting, run out of a fake storefront in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood.

San Francisco Chronicle: Just 83 veteran home loans made in 2012

A state program designed to help California veterans buy homes granted just 83 loans last year, despite having more than $1.1 billion in available funding. The California Department of Veterans Affairs employed 87 staff members to run the loan program, spending $10.6 million on overhead to originate $10.5 million in loans, according to the state Department of Finance. Critics, including Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez, say the program is an anachronism and that the money should be steered toward other needs, including affordable housing for homeless veterans.

Sacramento Bee: California's health exchange to serve as voter registration hub

Millions of Californians who contact the state's new health exchange to buy insurance will be given the opportunity to register to vote, too, a move that some Republicans fear could benefit Democrats. Secretary of State Debra Bowen made California the first state to designate its health exchange as a voter registration agency Wednesday, but others are expected to follow suit, said Shannan Velayas, Bowen's spokeswoman.

INTERNATIONAL:

Financial Times: Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms

The gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government, but is now being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the prime source of arms to rebels. The cost of Qatar’s intervention, its latest push to back an Arab revolt, amounts to a fraction of its international investment portfolio. But its financial support for the revolution that has turned into a vicious civil war dramatically overshadows western backing for the opposition. In dozens of interviews with the Financial Times conducted in recent weeks, rebel leaders both abroad and within Syria as well as regional and western officials detailed Qatar’s role in the Syrian conflict, a source of mounting controversy.

The Guardian: Saudi princes lose battle to keep court documents secret

Two prominent Saudi princes are involved in a London-registered company that supposedly facilitated "money laundering" for Hezbollah in Lebanon and helped smuggle precious stones out of Congo, according to contested allegations in court documents obtained by the Guardian. The claims emerge from court papers that lawyers for the Saudis have spent a year trying to suppress, including resorting to threats that relations with Britain would be damaged if they were revealed. Lawyers for the two princes – Prince Mishal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former defence minister, brother of King Abdullah and chairman of the country's influential allegiance council, and his son Prince Abdulaziz bin Mishal bin Al Saud – dismiss the claims as fabrications, "extortion" and "blackmail".

CNN: Nigeria military: Insurgents killed in raid on militant camps

At least 20 insurgents were killed Friday as Nigeria's military carried out an aerial bombardment of suspected militant Islamist camps in the country's northeast, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. The raid by Nigerian Air Force jets and attack helicopters is part of what the military says is a "massive deployment" of Nigerian forces this week to tackle insurgent groups, including Boko Haram. "Our military has overrun a number of the militants' camps in north and central Borno state," said defense spokesman Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade.

BUSINESS:

The Guardian: MP on Google tax avoidance scheme: 'I think that you do evil'

Google and Amazon came under fierce attack from MPs and tax campaigners after fresh whistleblower allegations put further strain on claims by the internet giants that their multibillion-pound UK-facing businesses should not be taxed by Revenue & Customs. Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, told Google's northern Europe boss, Matt Brittin, that his company's behaviour on tax was "devious, calculated and, in my view, unethical". He had been recalled by MPs after being accused of misleading parliament over the firm's tax affairs six months ago.

WSJ: Regulators Target Exchanges As They Ready Record Fine

Financial regulators are taking a harder line on exchanges amid concerns over their ability to police the markets they operate, as the SEC prepares to hit one with a record penalty. The deeper scrutiny has prompted some exchange officials to push back against a new regulatory stance that they say leaves them more vulnerable to potential penalties and sanctions. The tussle goes to the heart of the unusual dual role played by the biggest U.S. exchanges. They profit from the trading business they attract and the vast volumes of data generated by that trading. They also act as regulators of the same trading.

WaPo: Apple CEO Tim Cook to propose tax overhaul

Apple chief executive Tim Cook plans to propose a “dramatic simplification” of corporate tax laws when he testifies for the first time before Congress next week, just as lawmakers are considering an overhaul of the tax code. In an interview with The Washington Post, Cook said he will present specific proposals aimed at encouraging companies to bring back foreign earnings to the United States and invest that money injob creation, as well as research and development. He will speak at a Senate hearing Tuesday that is taking aim at companies that shift profits overseas to lower their tax bills.

San Jose Mercury News: Canada comes to Silicon Valley to poach high-tech workers struggling with immigration problems

Canada has landed in Silicon Valley with a brazen message: Give us your smart, your restless, your huddled Googleplex workers yearning to breathe life into the high-tech economy up north. As the U.S. Congress wrestles with a long-sought overhaul of America's immigration system, the Canadian government is trying to poach talented immigrants frustrated by U.S. visa policy. The campaign begins Friday with a four-day visit to the Bay Area by Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism. "I think everyone knows the American system is pretty dysfunctional," Kenney said Thursday in an interview from Vancouver, B.C. "I'm going to the Bay Area to spread the message that Canada is open for business; we're open for newcomers. If they qualify, we'll give them the Canadian equivalent of a green card as soon as they arrive."

 


Filed under: Washington AM Note
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. king

    all these repubs that are fighting against obamacare, and wont tell the American people that this law is helping shrink the government debt at record pace. all the monkey wrenches they are throwing against this law doesn't seems to be taking affect. this law was one of the main ingredient that brought us out of the great recession, and its the law of the land, so these republicans need to accept that and try and do everything in their power to improve it and make it accessible for the American people, oops did i say that. all these repubs are doing is trying to save their big insurance buddies, because the insurance companies have to put more of their profit toward their customers, and that is the real reason the repubs are trying so hard to destroy this law.

    May 17, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  2. Data Driven

    "The emails fill in at least some of the details about the talking points. They also leave in ruins administration claims that White House and State Department officials were mere bystanders in the process."

    First of all, the Weekly Standard is a right-wing opinion rag, not a news-source. You may as well link to the blog from your grouchy old uncle, which would be no less relevant than the Weekly Standard. Let's TRY to be journalists and rely on primary sources rather than opinions, shall we? Secondly, when did WH or State claim they were "bystanders" in the process. Process? Define. I suppose the process of formulating the talking points is what was meant. If so, everyone pertinent in the Administration is on record as admitting the talking points were refined as knowledge about Benghazi grew. In any case they've released all emails on the subject. Where's the cover-up? Better yet, define exactly WHAT is being covered-up.

    May 17, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  3. Sheila

    @king – I agree w/ you – It's a shame that, of all the Industrialized countries that already have some type of Affordable Health Care – The U.S. doesn't want it – You've got the richest people & business owners that doesn't want any type of health care for Anybody, but their Own ! What do they think we should do ? Go to the E.R. every time, and for every thing ? Who do they think would end up paying for That ?

    May 17, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |