CNN Washington AM Note
May 20th, 2013
05:43 AM ET
2 years ago

CNN Washington AM Note

BREAKING OVERNIGHT:

CNN: North Korea fires another projectile into the sea off its east coast, South says

North Korea on Monday fired a projectile into the sea off its east coast for the third day in a row, South Korean officials said, urging Pyongyang to refrain from "tension-creating acts." The South Korean Defense Ministry still needs to analyze exactly what the North fired, said Choi Yong-su, an official in the ministry's spokesperson's office. The projectiles the North launched over the weekend could be short-range missiles or a new kind of large-caliber artillery, the defense ministry said earlier Monday. The North fired three objects into waters off its east coast on Saturday and a fourth on Sunday, according to South Korea's semiofficial news agency Yonhap.

ALSO SEE: NYT: North Korea Seized Chinese Boat

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: Tornadoes strike several states, devouring homes and killing 1 man

A rash of tornadoes wreaked havoc in Oklahoma and the Midwest on Sunday and Monday, destroying homes and tossing trees around like toothpicks. But the destructive weather isn't over. Baseball-sized hail, wind gusts and tornadoes could pummel parts of the central Plains and Midwest through Monday. Early Monday morning, a tornado touched down in Golden City, Missouri, and tore through two counties, Barton County Emergency Management Director Tom Ryan said. The number of injuries and extent of damage were not immediately clear. Hours earlier, one man was killed in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, where a twister reduced trailer park homes to piles of debris. Dozens of deputies scoured the rubble overnight, Sheriff Mike Booth said. Two people reported missing from trailer park were found late Sunday night.

CNN: Damaged commuter rail snarls traffic into New York

Telecommuting and carpooling are the recommended options for folks who would normally take the train between New Haven, Connecticut, and New York in the aftermath of a derailment that disrupted train service on one of the busiest tracks in the country. "There are going to be substantial delays until we can get this line back in full service," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Sunday evening. "Residents should plan for a week's worth of disruptions." And while the governor suggested carpooling as an option, he made it clear that it wasn't a particularly good one. "The delays will not be limited to mass transit as more people get behind the wheel to drive and make their own connections," clogging the roadways, Malloy said. More than 30,000 passengers travel the rail corridor on a daily basis.

ALSO SEE: CNN: 5 still hospitalized after Connecticut train collision

CNNMoney: Gas prices lower, but not leading to more spending

Gas prices are slightly lower this year, but that's not leading to a large pick-up in consumer spending, according to a survey by Bankrate.com. About 80% of the 1,000 people Bankrate surveyed said they have not increased their discretionary spending in response to falling gas prices this year. Perhaps it's because prices have been choppy? Gas prices rose for 34 straight days at the beginning of the year, then fell through most of March and April. They have since risen again slightly. That said, gas is still cheaper compared to a year ago. As of Friday, a gallon of unleaded gasoline cost $3.62, according to AAA. That's about 10 cents lower than the same time last year.

LA Times: More poor live in suburbs than in urban areas, research shows

Bucking longstanding patterns in the United States, more poor people now live in the nation's suburbs than in urban areas, according to a new analysis. As poverty mounted throughout the nation over the past decade, the number of poor people living in suburbs surged 67% between 2000 and 2011 — a much bigger jump than in cities, researchers for the Brookings Institution said in a book published today. Suburbs still have a smaller percentage of their population living in poverty than cities do, but the sheer number of poor people scattered in the suburbs has jumped beyond that of cities.

WHITE HOUSE:

CNN Poll: Controversies hurting Obama? Has GOP overreacted?

President Barack Obama comes out of what was arguably the worst week of his presidency with his approval rating holding steady, according to a new national poll. But a CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday morning also indicates that congressional Republicans are not overplaying their hand when it comes to their reaction to the three controversies that have consumed the nation's capital over the past week and a half. And the poll finds that a majority of Americans take all three issues seriously. According to the survey, which was conducted Friday and Saturday, 53% of Americans say they approve of the job the president is doing, with 45% saying they disapprove. The president's approval rating was at 51% in CNN's last poll, which was conducted in early April.

ALSO SEE: CNN: W.H. adviser questions whether GOP will throw wrench in governing

CNN: Obama to give much-anticipated speech on terrorism, drones

President Barack Obama will deliver long-promised remarks Thursday explaining the legal framework behind the decisions he makes to use drones against terrorist threats and further detail the administration’s counterterrorism policy, according to a White House official. In his speech at the National Defense University, the president also plans to review the state of threats the country currently faces and efforts to close down Guantanamo Bay's detention facility, the official said. After facing a barrage of criticism from both parties about the administration's secretive drone policy, Obama pledged in his February State of the Union address to work with Congress on the issue to ensure "that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances."

WSJ: Obama's Counsel Told of IRS Audit Findings Weeks Ago

The White House's chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday. That disclosure has prompted a debate over whether the president should have been notified at that time. In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general's report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that "a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain… organizations by using words like 'tea party' and 'patriot,' " the official said.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Rand Paul claims revealing memo exists in IRS scandal

CNN: Obama to new grads: "No time for excuses"

Past, present and future came together on a thunderstorm-filled Sunday, as President Barack Obama received an honorary doctorate and gave the commencement speech at historically black, all-male Morehouse College, where the Rev. Martin Luther King and many other prominent African-Americans spent their formative years. After opening with several one-liners, and more smiles than we've seen from him in the damage-control-filled recent weeks, Obama delivered a serious message to the class of 2013. During a speech rife with both personal and historical references, the president invoked a past full of challenges, often resulting from racism, but noted that African-Americans need to break free from that past to succeed in a globally competitive economy.

CNN: Despite ‘shortage of common sense’ in D.C., Obama expresses optimism

Obama kicked off his fundraising tour for the Senate Democratic campaign arm on Sunday with a speaking gig in Atlanta, his first of six events for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. During his brief remarks, the president reported on the divisive political climate in the nation’s capital, saying “partisan thinking” has dominated Washington and added the country needs to elect more people "who are not ideological." Obama largely stayed on message about his goals for the economy, education, health care costs and energy. He said reform can take place only if policy can trump politics.

WaPo: Burma’s Thein Sein says military ‘will always have a special place’ in government

The military that ran Burma for decades will continue to play a major role in the country, the former Burmese general who has presided over the transformation of a nation that only three years ago was considered one of the world’s most repressive said Sunday. The army has a proud history in Burma and “will always have a special place” in government, Burmese President Thein Sein said in an interview Sunday with The Washington Post, on the eve of a White House meeting with President Obama. Thein Sein dismissed as “pure fabrication” the allegation from human rights monitors that the Burmese army condones or even participates in ethnic pogroms against the nation’s Muslim minority. The army “is more disciplined than normal citizens, because they have to abide by military rules,” he said through an interpreter.

WATCH: VIDEO – CNN's Dan Rivers reports on the influx of companies into Myanmar as the country opens up to foreign business.

CAPITOL HILL:

NYT: Larger Union That Enforces Immigration Opposes Bill

A labor union representing 12,000 federal officers who issue immigration documents will join forces on Monday with the union representing deportation agents to publicly oppose a bill overhauling the immigration system that is making its way through the Senate, arguing that the legislation would weaken public safety. The two unions represent a total of 20,000 employees in the Department of Homeland Security who would play a central role in carrying out the ambitious legislation, either by reviewing applications from millions of immigrants who could gain new legal status through the bill or by expelling illegal immigrants who did not qualify. A letter to Congress that excoriates the Senate proposal, and that the immigration officers’ union signed for the first time, reveals simmering unrest among Homeland Security employees, who have been asked to carry out broad and fast-paced immigration policy shifts by the Obama administration.

The Hill: Senate barrels toward showdown over consumer bureau nominee   

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are headed for a showdown over Richard Cordray, the man responsible for implementing major elements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) will call for a vote this coming week on Cordray, who is serving as the recess-appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP). Democrats are aiming to have the vote to formally confirm him as director on Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide.  Senate Republicans, however, say they will filibuster Cordray unless changes are made to the bureau, which is charged with enforcing consumer financial protection laws. Republicans want it made more accountable to Congress.

ALSO SEE: Politico: Does Cordray's confirmation matter?

Politico: Cabinet nominees on 2 different paths

At 184 pages, the financial disclosure report for Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker, President Barack Obama’s pick for commerce secretary, is too big to attach to an email. And that doesn’t include an 18-page letter detailing the investments and corporate gigs she would shed if she is confirmed by the Senate. The same report for transportation secretary nominee Anthony Foxx? Just eight pages with a two-page ethical agreement. The disparity between the two disclosure reports provides a glimpse into why Republicans are setting their sights on Pritzker, while Foxx appears headed for a speedy and controversy-free confirmation when the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation holds back-to-back hearings on the two this week.

POLITICAL:

Politico: Obamacare allies eye ballot initiatives

Frustrated by conservative opposition to extending Medicaid even in states where Republican governors have embraced it, the president’s allies are strategizing about asking voters to do what their elected leaders have not: accept billions of federal dollars to cover millions of poor people under Obamacare. Putting anything as volatile as President Barack Obama’s health law on the 2014 ballot is risky — more so if the rollout of the law is rocky next year, less so if people start seeing tangible benefits. The health law, after all, was a big reason the Republicans captured the House and made gains in the Senate in the last midterms, in 2010. And ballot initiatives could stoke emotions and affect turnout in unpredictable ways in the 2014 midterms, when the health law is still likely to be a raw political issue.

WSJ: Employers Eye Bare-Bones Health Plans Under New Law

Employers are increasingly recognizing they may be able to avoid certain penalties under the federal health law by offering very limited plans that can lack key benefits such as hospital coverage. Benefits advisers and insurance brokers—bucking a commonly held expectation that the law would broadly enrich benefits—are pitching these low-benefit plans around the country. They cover minimal requirements such as preventive services, but often little more. Some of the plans wouldn't cover surgery, X-rays or prenatal care at all. Others will be paired with limited packages to cover additional services, for instance, $100 a day for a hospital visit. Federal officials say this type of plan, in concept, would appear to qualify as acceptable minimum coverage under the law, and let most employers avoid an across-the-workforce $2,000-per-worker penalty for firms that offer nothing. Employers could still face other penalties they anticipate would be far less costly.

ALSO SEE: Boston Globe: US won’t mirror Mass. on health exchanges

NYT: Potential Donors to Enroll America Grow Skittish

The Obama administration’s efforts to raise private money to carry out the president’s health care law have provoked such a strong partisan uproar that potential donors have become skittish about contributing, according to several people involved in the fund-raising program. White House officials said they did not sign off on the fund-raising calls made by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, but were generally aware that she would be seeking support from outside groups. Two House committees have begun investigating the solicitations. Five senior Republicans from the Senate and the House have asked the comptroller general of the United States, Gene L. Dodaro, to investigate the actions of Ms. Sebelius to determine if she was improperly circumventing spending limits imposed by Congress.

CNN: In new TV ad, slain officer’s family endorses Cuccinelli

The widow and daughter of a Virginia police officer killed in the line of duty endorse Ken Cuccinelli for governor in a new television commercial that will start running throughout the commonwealth on Monday, a Cuccinelli campaign adviser tells CNN. Cuccinelli’s first TV ad since accepting the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination Saturday doesn’t talk about his plan to fix the economy or lower taxes, but rather it seeks to paint him as a compassionate individual who will never leave your side. “I honestly don’t know how I survived it,” Sue Garbarino says about the murder of her husband, Fairfax County Police Officer Michael Garbarino, in May 2006. “I just needed to be there for my girls. Every time I was in the hospital, I would see Ken Cuccinelli. I will never forget that.”

Politico: Scandals cause high anxiety for House Dems in ‘14

Democrats aiming to retake the House next year against all odds tried to reassure themselves after President Barack Obama’s week from hell: The election is still 18 months away, plenty of time for Republicans to turn today’s gift into tomorrow’s albatross. Yet the anxiety within party ranks heading into a midterm already heavily stacked in the GOP’s favor is all too palpable.  “I think it really is a problem. I’m taken aback by it all,” said Democratic House candidate Jim Graves of Minnesota, adding that he intends to air his grievances with the White House during his campaign against GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann.

WaPo: Four key Hillary Clinton staffers from 2008 unlikely to sign on for 2016 bid

Howard Wolfson, the 2008 communications director for Hillary Rodham Clinton, has said he will not return for a 2016 presidential campaign. Neither, for that matter, will Neera Tanden, the campaign’s policy director. Ditto for Mark Penn, the chief strategist, and Patti Solis Doyle, the embattled campaign manager. As core members of a dysfunctional “Team of Rivals,” these top advisers were seared, scattered and, to different degrees, forged by the 2008 experience. Haunted by the failures in management and messaging, they have worked hard to get over their shattered White House dreams and rejection by a Democratic base enamored with Barack Obama. They express their requisite hope that Clinton will run and win, but also their lack of interest in jumping back in.

Politico: GOP senators stave off primary foes

Lamar Alexander has an inventive way of fending off potential primary foes, one that could be a model for GOP incumbents running in 2014. Drop by their house for iced tea. Just ask Monty Lankford, who threatened to challenge Alexander in a 2014 primary. On a recent afternoon, the Tennessee Republican met Lankford’s family at their home outside of Nashville, then sat down with his one-time foe for iced tea and cheese and crackers. The result: Lankford joined Alexander’s campaign team as its co-chairman and a chief fundraiser. The iced tea summit is indicative of the new, more aggressive tactics being employed by Republican senators to fend off primary foes in 2014. Instead of waiting for insurgents to catch them asleep at the switch, GOP incumbents running in 2014 — like Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Pat Roberts of Kansas and John Cornyn of Texas — are acting early and proactively to ensure no serious challenger emerges.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

WSJ: Kerry Mideast Trip to Focus On Syria and Peace Process

John Kerry will make his fourth trip to the Middle East in his four months as secretary of state, as he searches for progress on thorny issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the conflict in Syria. The trip, starting Monday and with stops in Oman, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Ethiopia, underscores how the aftershocks of the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, Iran's nuclear program, and peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians continue to frustrate U.S. efforts to focus more on China and looming challenges in the Asian-Pacific region.

NYT: Russia Expels Former American Embassy Official

A former senior Justice Department official at the American Embassy here was declared “persona non grata” and barred from Russia this month, according to people familiar with the case, possibly because he had rebuffed an effort by the Russian Federal Security Service to recruit him as a spy. The former official, Thomas Firestone, had been living and working in Moscow as a lawyer for an American law firm, and had extensive contacts in the Russian government. He was detained at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow on May 5 while trying to return to Russia from a trip abroad; the authorities held him for 16 hours and then put him on a flight to the United States. Mr. Firestone was contacted in March by Russian intelligence operatives who sought to enlist him to spy for the Russians, according to one person who is familiar with the case. Mr. Firestone turned them down, the person said. It was not clear whether the episode was the cause of his ejection from Russia.

NYT: Chinese Hackers Resume Attacks on U.S. Targets

Three months after hackers working for a cyberunit of China’s People’s Liberation Army went silent amid evidence that they had stolen data from scores of American companies and government agencies, they appear to have resumed their attacks  using different techniques, according to computer industry security experts and American officials. The Obama administration had bet that “naming and shaming” the groups, first in industry reports and then in the Pentagon’s own detailed survey of Chinese military capabilities, might prompt China’s new leadership to crack down on the military’s highly organized team of hackers — or at least urge them to become more subtle. But Unit 61398, whose well-guarded 12-story white headquarters on the edges of Shanghai became the symbol of Chinese cyberpower, is back in business, according to American officials and security companies.

Reuters: Venezuela says taking steps to restore U.S. diplomatic ties

Venezuela's recent designation of an acting head of its diplomatic mission in the United States shows the OPEC nation's desire to restore full diplomatic relations, the foreign minister said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. Disputes between Caracas and Washington were common during the 14-year-rule of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, leaving both nations without ambassadors in each other's capitals. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua suggested in a televised interview that the move to name government ally Calixto Ortega as charge d'affaires in Washington could be a prelude to restoring ambassadors.

LA Times: Anthrax drug brings $334 million to Pentagon advisor's biotech firm

Over the last decade, former Navy Secretary Richard J. Danzig, a prominent lawyer, presidential advisor and biowarfare consultant to the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, has urged the government to counter what he called a major threat to national security. Terrorists, he warned, could easily engineer a devastating killer germ: a form of anthrax resistant to common antibiotics. U.S. intelligence agencies have never established that any nation or terrorist group has made such a weapon, and biodefense scientists say doing so would be very difficult. Nevertheless, Danzig has energetically promoted the threat — and prodded the government to stockpile a new type of drug to defend against it. Danzig did this while serving as a director of a biotech startup that won $334 million in federal contracts to supply just such a drug, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.

AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

WaPo: A rare peek into a Justice Department leak probe

When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material. They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails. The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.

CNN: The Dreamliner returns: 5 things to know

Aviation fans have already named it Dreamliner 2.0. No longer grounded for safety concerns, Boeing's embattled 787 Dreamliner now has a few things to prove. Monday might be a good day to start. That's when domestic Dreamliner flights return to America's airways. At 11 a.m., United Flight 1 is scheduled to depart Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport for Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The airline plans to roll out additional 787 flights throughout the week. Some international carriers have already resumed Dreamliner service.

CNN: 2 FBI agents die in hostage rescue training exercise

Two FBI special agents were killed Friday during a training exercise off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, the bureau said in a statement released Sunday. "Special Agent Christopher Lorek and Special Agent Stephen Shaw were assigned to the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group. The cause of the incident is under review." An official who asked not to be identified told CNN that the two agents were killed in a hostage rescue training exercise.

MinnPost: FBI joins probe of Bachmann's presidential campaign

The FBI is investigating complaints of alleged campaign finance violations in Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign. The FBI joins the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Federal Elections Commission and an Iowa state Senate ethics committee in probing whether Bachmann's presidential campaign paid an Iowa state senator from her MichelePAC, a fund that should not have been used for campaign expenses, and whether the state senator stole the email list of an Iowa home-school group from another Bachmann staffer, Barbara Hekki, prior to the Iowa caucuses in January, 2012.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Proposal gives Scott Walker administration more power to sell state property

Gov. Scott Walker's administration would gain broad authority to sell state property – including prisons, highways, heating plants and university dormitories – under a plan legislators will take up Tuesday. Proceeds would be used to chip away at the state's $8 billion debt, but the state entities that formerly owned the properties might not see any benefit from the sales. So, a dorm built with student fees could potentially be sold to pay down the debt for a highway expansion, or vice versa. Critics say the plan that's part of the GOP governor's budget proposal could saddle the state with higher day-to-day costs – such as buying power and steam to heat prisons and dorms – after it sells the properties. Under the governor's plan, the state also could negotiate sales with individual buyers without going through a public bidding process.

Baltimore Sun: As contraband phones flood Baltimore jail, blocking technology comes online

Maryland corrections officials are taking advantage of new technology designed to block the use of contraband cellphones by inmates — a problem at the heart of recent indictments at the Baltimore City Detention Center. In a program being used at another prison facility in Baltimore, phones smuggled inside have been severed from the network and rendered inoperable, officials said. The new system, which the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services hopes to expand, could supplement efforts to find the phones using metal detectors or trained dogs to sniff them out. The department says it is catching more illicit phones than ever — more than 1,300 were found in the last fiscal year — but the federal indictments show the limits of those efforts. The blocking technology promises to render contraband phones useless, while still letting staffers make calls.

Miami Herald: Gov. Rick Scott to veto tuition hike 

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday will veto a 3 percent increase in Florida college tuition and approve $65 million in extra Medicaid funding to hospitals that provide much of the care to the poor, including Jackson Memorial in Miami and Broward Health in Fort Lauderdale. As Scott signs the state’s $74.5 billion budget before leaving on a trade mission to Chile, his rejection of a tuition increase was expected. He has criticized the idea for months, calling it a “tax” on middle-class families.

Detroit Free Press: Flint family still fighting for son's release from Iranian prison

Behnaz Hekmati remembers the call she got from her son saying he was planning to return to home from his trip to Iran. Nearly two years later, the Flint mother is still waiting for his return. Amir Hekmati, a 29-year-old U.S. veteran, has been locked up since August 2011, accused of being a CIA spy — a claim which his family and the U.S. government repeatedly have denied. “This disaster changed our life,” his mother said. His family said Hekmati went to Iran to visit his two grandmothers who live there and was taken by force during the third, and final, week of his visit. He appeared on video about four months later in Iranian custody, and since then, his family has been working to secure his release.

INTERNATIONAL:

CNN: Violence surges in strategic Syrian city

Violence surged in the strategically important Syrian town of Qusayr on Sunday. Activists said the offensive marked some of the most intense fighting they've seen in the fiercely contested area near the Lebanese border. Rebels and the Syrian government both claimed to control parts of the city, where fighting has been raging for weeks. Activists said artillery shells, mortar shells and bombs from aircraft were raining down as government forces attacked. Makeshift medical clinics were reportedly filled with casualties. By all accounts, Qusayr is in a strategically valuable location. For rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government, it sits along a transit route for weapons and supplies coming in from Lebanon. For the Syrian government, it's a key point between the capital of Damascus and al-Assad's supporters on the Mediterranean coast.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Opposition group: 23 Hezbollah fighters killed in clashes with Syrian rebels

 

CNN: Kidnapped civilians among 32 killed in rash of Iraq violence

A barrage of car bombings and shootings across Iraq left at least 32 people dead, authorities said Monday. It's the latest spate of violence plaguing the country amid heightened sectarian strife. At least nine people were killed and 37 others wounded when two car bombs exploded Monday in a pair of neighborhoods, Basra police said.

Most of the casualties were civilians, police said. …In another attack, gunmen ambushed two police checkpoints in in Haditha on Monday, killing eight officers, Ramadi police said. Haditha is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of Baghdad.

CNN: Nigerian forces tout 'massive deployment' against insurgents

An ongoing "massive deployment" against insurgent groups in northern Nigeria by the nation's special forces killed at least 14 suspected terrorists and captured 20 others, according to a statement released Sunday by Nigeria's defense ministry. The ministry had reported killing at least 10 suspected terrorists and apprehending another 65 on Saturday, as well as the deaths of "conservatively speaking, over 20 dead" on Friday. Sunday's update noted that three soldiers were killed and seven more were wounded in the offensive.

BBC: China Premier Li Keqiang pledges better ties with India

China's Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to build trust with India where he is meeting his counterpart Manmohan Singh after a recent flare-up in border tensions. Premier Li said the purpose of his visit was "to increase mutual trust and co-operation and face the future". "World peace... cannot be a reality without strategic co-operation between India and China," he said. The two neighbours are the world's two most populous countries. Monday's talks are expected to involve trade ties and other bilateral issues.

WATCH: VIDEO – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits India at a sensitive diplomatic moment for the neighboring economic giants.

WSJ: Lawyer Withdraws Musharraf Complaint

The lawyer who initiated one of the main legal cases against former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has withdrawn his motion in a move that could set the stage for a compromise allowing the former army chief to leave the country. Pakistan's army has watched warily as Mr. Musharraf—who returned to the country in March hoping to contest the May 11 elections after years of self-imposed exile—was instead arrested and placed under detention in his home. The antiterrorism courts are investigating allegations originally brought by lawyer Aslam Ghumman that Mr. Musharraf violated the constitution when he detained 62 senior judges after he declared emergency rule in 2007. In a separate investigation, he faces allegations that he failed to provide adequate security to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated the same year. Mr. Musharraf denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

Financial Times: David Cameron feels Tory rage on gay marriage

David Cameron’s control over his party will come under renewed pressure on Monday as scores of Tory MPs try to wreck his plans to legalise same-sex marriages, against a backdrop of mistrust and recrimination. The Commons votes on the gay marriage bill follow a wave of dissent over Mr Cameron’s Europe policy last week and claims that one of his top aides called party members “mad, swivel-eyed loons”. The gay marriage issue has galvanised party disquiet over Mr Cameron’s leadership, with MPs accusing the prime minister and a supposed metropolitan elite in his inner circle of needlessly splitting the party.

BUSINESS:

WaPo: Behind the mortgage settlements from the housing crisis

Banks have paid less than half the $5.7 billion in cash owed to troubled homeowners under nearly 30 settlements brokered by the government since 2008, delaying help to the millions of victims of discrimination and shoddy lending that epitomized the housing crisis, according to a Washington Post analysis of government data. When the settlements were announced, with great fanfare, government officials hailed them as the long-promised reckoning with the financial industry. Regulators found that some banks had saddled borrowers with unaffordable mortgages or assigned higher rates to minorities even when they qualified for a better deal. Some banks were accused of having employees “robo-sign” foreclosure documents without reading them or having proper documentation. But consumer advocates and lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated by the delays in releasing the settlement funds, which they say are making it difficult for some borrowers to recover financially.

Financial Times: Apple faces grilling over US tax rate

Apple would have paid a tax rate of about 15 per cent last year, far below the 25.2 per cent it reported, had it not used a form of reserve accounting that sets it apart from other big US technology companies. The rare accounting treatment has helped to distract attention from Apple at a time when the tax-avoidance strategies of other cash-rich US tech companies, notably Google, have come under public attack, according to tax experts. However, Apple’s tax planning is likely to come under the microscope on Tuesday when Tim Cook, chief executive, appears before the US Senate’s permanent investigations subcommittee.

WSJ: Criminal Charges Weighed Against SAC

U.S. prosecutors are considering possible criminal charges against SAC Capital Advisors LP as a result of the government's insider-trading investigation of the hedge-fund firm, according to people familiar with the matter. The move came before the company told clients Friday that it will no longer provide "unconditional" cooperation with the multiyear probe of SAC and billionaire founder Steven A. Cohen. The firm didn't tell clients the reason for the reversal. It isn't clear what led prosecutors to warn the Stamford, Conn., hedge-fund operator that it could be charged criminally. But the move is the strongest sign yet that prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are trying to ratchet up the pressure as a five-year deadline looms to file the most serious charges related to trading that allegedly involved Mr. Cohen. Recent developments include subpoenas issued to Mr. Cohen and other SAC employees to provide grand-jury testimony, people familiar with the case said.

CNNMoney: Yahoo to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion: Report

The Yahoo board has reportedly approved a deal to pay $1.1 billion in cash for the blogging site Tumblr. Rumors had been swirling late last week that Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) CEO Marissa Mayer was in talks with Tumblr CEO David Karp. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the board had approved the deal. Yahoo is expected to hold an event in New York City on Monday to announce the news.

 


Filed under: Washington AM Note
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oops. I understand from a previous article that Mr. Obama still has rather nice job approval numbers and the media is still trying to justify blasting us with Benghazi, IRS, and AP Republican talking point scandals as not being overplayed but something we the majority are (in the media viewpoint anyway) still very interested in following. I also see that the media is dragging Mr. Mittens into the mix to liven up the Republican talking point nonsense.

    Oh, yeah. And (Ayn) Rand Paul is hoping to pull a genie out of the bottle to bolster HIS bs.

    Guess the GOP and the media didn't learn a thing back in the November 2012 election after all.

    May 20, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |