CNN Washington AM Note
May 29th, 2013
06:15 AM ET
11 months ago

CNN Washington AM Note

BREAKING OVERNIGHT:

CNN: Rep. Bachmann looks forward to 'limitless' future, but not in the House

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will not seek reelection next year. But, said the former presidential candidate, she has no plans to fade from public view. "Looking forward, after the completion of my term, my future is full, it is limitless, and my passions for America will remain," she announced in a video posted to her campaign website early Wednesday. Bachmann, who served four terms representing Minnesota's 6th District, promised that there "is no future option or opportunity" that she "won't be giving serious consideration if it can help save and protect our great nation for future generations."

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: Severe weather threatens more than half the country

The Midwest is squarely in the bulls-eye again Wednesday for strong tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds. It's the latest round of severe weather to settle over America's heartland as warm Gulf moisture saturates the area. The powerful storms have been dumping heavy rain across the region, especially on portions of Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Illinois and Indiana, where flood warnings were in place, the National Weather Service said. Multiple tornadoes touched down across Kansas on Tuesday evening.

WSJ: Tornado Leaves Up to $3.5 Billion In Insured Losses

The powerful tornado that struck Moore, Okla., last week may have caused as much as $3.5 billion in insured losses, according to disaster-modeling company Risk Management Solutions Inc. The firm says the massive twister damaged as many as 20,000 buildings and completely destroyed 4,000 to 5,000. About 95% of the affected structures are residential, said Matthew Nielsen, director of model product management at RMS. The firm's estimate of insured losses, ranging from $2 billion to $3.5 billion, is the latest sign that last week's deadly storms won't take a massive bite out of insurer profits. It appears the Moore tornado will cost the industry significantly less than last year's superstorm Sandy or a string of tornadoes that struck several states in 2011.

CNN: Arizona mom doesn't belong in Mexican jail, daughter says

An Arizona mother of seven will be back in court on Wednesday as a judge weighs whether she will go free or remain behind bars in Mexico, her family said. It's a situation Yanira Maldonado's family said she never imagined when she boarded a bus to head back to the United States last week after attending a family funeral. Now she's facing drug-smuggling charges after Mexican authorities said they found 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat. Her family vehemently denies the charges and accuses authorities of arresting her to get bribe money. A Mexican state official also told CNN it appears that Yanira Maldonado was framed.

NBC: Mom brings home more bacon in nearly 1 in 4 homes

Moms now earn more than dads in almost a quarter of all U.S. families, the highest level in history. It's a huge leap from 50 years ago when only a handful of moms were bringing home the bacon, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. Overall, women - including those who are unmarried - are now the leading or solo breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households, compared with just 11 percent in 1960, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau analyzed by Pew. That’s both good news and bad news, depending on which end of the scale you examine. At the top level, educated women are catching up with men in the workforce. But at the bottom rungs, there are more single mothers than ever and most of them are living near the poverty line.

Fox News: Mass. audit finds dead welfare recipients collecting millions of dollars

A state audit has revealed that Massachusetts has given out $18 million in “questionable public assistance benefits” in recent years, in cases that included the distribution of benefits to more than 1,160 people who were either dead or using the Social Security number of a deceased person. In some cases, recipients began receiving benefits for the first time after their deaths. The audit, issued Tuesday, covered cash, food stamps, and other benefits intended for low-income families, and found millions of dollars in irregular benefits and an urgent need for improved anti-fraud security.

LA Times: Cases of children accidentally ingesting pot on rise, study says

As legalized marijuana appears in an increasing number of American homes, so too does evidence of a dark side: accidental ingestion of pot and pot-infused food by young children. The results can be frightening to such children, who often suffer anxiety attacks when they start to feel unexpected symptoms of being high: hallucinations, dizziness, altered perception and impaired thinking. And the trend should prompt equal concern among adult caregivers and public health authorities, since ingestion of highly potent marijuana by young children can suppress respiration and even induce coma, according to a study published online this week in JAMA Pediatrics.

WHITE HOUSE:

Bloomberg: Obama Said to Pick Jason Furman as Next Top Economic Adviser

President Barack Obama plans to nominate Jason Furman, a Harvard-trained economist who’s also well-schooled in White House staff rivalries, to replace Alan Krueger as the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, according to two people familiar with the matter. Krueger plans to return to Princeton University to his position as Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs in time for the next school year, the White House announced today. In a statement, Obama called Krueger “one of my most trusted advisers on economic policy and a great friend.” Installing Furman at the CEA may signal a revitalized role for the office, which has taken a back seat to the National Economic Council in driving policy inside the White House, according to the people, who requested anonymity because the decision hasn’t been made final.

ALSO SEE: CNN: Krueger to leave White House post

CNN: Obama heads home to bring in bucks for Democrats

President Obama heads to his hometown of Chicago Wednesday to help raise money for congressional Democrats. The president will headline a reception and dinner for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats' political arm. According to an invitation obtained by CNN, ticket prices range from $1,000 per person to attend the reception to $50,000 for a table, preferred seating, and a photo opportunity at the following dinner. The Wednesday reception and dinner is one of six solo fundraisers the president's keynoting for the DCCC this year, along with two joint fundraisers for House Democrats and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in advance of next year's midterm elections. Obama only headlined two DCCC fundraisers in 2009, ahead of the 2010 contests.

CAPITOL HILL:

CNN: House panel subpoenas State Department over Benghazi

A congressional committee on Tuesday subpoenaed current and former top State Department officials related to the development of "talking points" by the Obama administration to publicly explain the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, last year. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sought documents and communications from 10 people, including the agency's No. 2 official, the top aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the department's former spokeswoman, the panel's chairman, Darrell Issa, said in a statement.

Politico: The next Darrell Issa

It’s not just Darrell Issa looking to make life complicated for the White House over the recent scandals. There’s a slew of very conservative House subcommittee chairmen who all want a piece of the action — and because of their powerful positions, they’re very likely to get it. Republicans Trent Franks of Arizona, Charles Boustany of Louisiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jason Chaffetz of Utah aren’t household names. They chair House panels such as the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight and the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security. These influential conservatives also pose a problem for the House GOP leadership, which is trying to appear measured in its approach to the scandals. If they get too aggressive in their questioning or go beyond the boundaries their chairmen or leadership have set, they risk overreach. That could be just as dangerous for Republicans as for the White House as the 2014 midterms near.

Roll Call: Democrats Unleash a Binder Full of Obamacare Messaging

House Republican leaders recently subjected their Democratic colleagues to the 37th vote in two and a half years to repeal “Obamacare.” But heading into the week-long Memorial Day recess, Democratic leadership went on the offensive to prepare the rank and file to defend President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law back home. The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee sent members back to their districts last week armed with “Affordable Care Act Toolkits,” meticulously organized binders containing every piece of information lawmakers could possibly need to communicate the nuances of the law to their constituents. “Reforming our health care system is an historic opportunity to make health care more affordable and bring the kind of change we were all elected to achieve for the American people,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and committee co-chairmen Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey wrote in a May 22 introductory letter accompanying each toolkit, one of which was obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Politico: GOP learns to love individual mandate — for immigrants

House Republicans were so opposed to forcing people to buy health insurance that they fought Obamacare all the way to the Supreme Court. But now they may be okay with an individual mandate — if it’s for illegal immigrants. Members of a House immigration group are considering a rule that would force immigrants to buy their own health insurance while they wait for citizenship. The Republicans and other conservatives say their rule wouldn’t be like Obamacare’s at all. Their argument: It’s simply fair to ask immigrants to show they won’t be a drain on the system before getting full citizenship.

POLITICAL:

CNN: ‘Risk’ officer appointed to help restore ‘integrity’ at IRS

The temporary head of the IRS has quickly filled a senior post to help restore “the integrity” of tax agency operations, which have been buffeted by revelations it targeted conservative political groups for scrutiny. Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel has appointed David Fisher, a former senior official with the Government Accountability Office, as chief risk officer and senior adviser. Fisher is steeped in financial management and internal controls, and has experience leading complex government organizations while at the GAO where he was chief administrative/chief financial officer, Werfel said in an internal e-mail announcing the appointment.

ABC News: Pressure Mounts On Kentucky’s ‘Reluctant’ Potential Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes

Make up your mind. That’s the message an influential Kentucky congressman is sending to a fellow Bluegrass State Democrat who has spent months contemplating whether to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell but has yet to announce her intentions. Three-term Rep. John Yarmuth, the state’s only Democratic congressman, had some blunt advice for the potential Senate contender, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday. “It’s very important to do it now,” Yarmuth said, adding that he and other prominent Democrats have been reaching out to Grimes but not getting much of a response. He called her failure to return calls “extremely unusual.” “She’s keeping her own counsel on this, and I guess that is fine, but there are others waiting in the wings,” Yarmuth said, noting that Democrats want to “avoid an expensive primary.”

NYT: Finding Democrats to Run Where Republicans Win

Many Democrats in this state and beyond saw in Stephanie Herseth Sandlin an ideal candidate to help the party retain the Senate seat that Tim Johnson is giving up next year. She gained statewide popularity winning three full terms to the House of Representatives, where she voted against President Obama’s health care law, for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and against cap and trade. That is the type of Democrat who is considered able to win elections in red states. So when Ms. Herseth Sandlin recently announced that she would not run, it not only upended Democratic plans but spurred deeper reflection over exactly what kind of candidate should represent the party — one who adheres to the party’s core principles or someone moderate, even conservative, enough to appeal to more voters? The debate in South Dakota could set a guidepost for Democrats nationwide weighing candidates’ electability versus their ideological purity.

Politico: Joe Miller files papers for Senate

It looks like it’s time to stop calling Joe Miller a former Senate candidate. The Alaska conservative activist who lost a 2010 bid for the Senate after besting incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a GOP primary, has filed a form indicating he intends to run for Senate again in 2014, according to documentation from the office of the Secretary of the Senate. On May 2, Miller filed a Federal Election Commission Form 2 stating his intent to run for Senate next year. It’s a document that any candidate must complete upon receiving more than $5,000 in contributions to a political campaign or authorizing another party to take in over $5,000 in contributions.

CNN: Weiner reacts to surprising poll numbers

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned in disgrace after sending lewd photos via Twitter, got some good news Tuesday with a new poll indicating he's gaining ground in the New York City mayoral race. Asked by CNN if he's getting a second chance, Weiner argued voters aren't focused on his scandal. "Look. I have said from the moment I got into this race that I honor the idea that people are going to have questions about me, but for the most part the questions people have been asking have been the things that affect their families." A new Marist poll released Tuesday indicates Weiner is catching up to the Democratic frontrunner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. He's now five points behind her in the race for the Democratic nomination, 24%-19%. The other candidates fall below 12%. …Weiner's comments came shortly before his first debate, where he received a warm welcome. Five Democratic candidates gathered for the education-themed showdown, but noticeably absent was Quinn.

WaPo: 3 major Democratic fundraisers to help raise money for potential Hillary Clinton run

Hillary Rodham Clinton may be far from making a decision about another presidential campaign, but three heavyweight Democratic fundraisers have signed on to help raise money for the cause. Susie Tompkins Buell, a San Francisco philanthropist and co-founder of the Esprit clothing line, and Steve and Amber Mostyn, Houston trial lawyers who helped bankroll a super PAC that worked to reelect President Obama last year, are leading the fundraising efforts of a fledgling group called Ready for Hillary. The pro-Clinton super PAC launched its National Finance Council on Tuesday, naming Buell and the Mostyns as founding members. Ready for Hillary, begun this year by Clinton supporters, is urging the former secretary of state and first lady to run for president in 2016 and is working to assemble a grass-roots coalition on her behalf.

BuzzFeed: Allen West, Washington Outsider, Returns To Washington

On the roof of his new North Capitol Street office building, Col. Allen West points over to his old office, the United States Capitol. “I’m coming back here to keep an eye on Washington D.C and report back to people,” West said in a recent interview with BuzzFeed. “There are people that want to know what’s going on here and I believe that folks still believe that I’m a trusted voice.” It has been five months since West left Congress. When the one-term former Congressman and face of the 2010 Tea party wave lost in a close and extraordinarily expensive contest last November to a young Democrat named Patrick Murphy, Democrats were gleeful. But he did not leave quietly. He fought with the courts and election officials for two weeks before conceding, and at the time, the congressional press corps joked that West might continue to show up for work in the Capitol even if he lost. That’s kind of what ended up happening.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

Reuters: U.S. launches first drone strike in Pakistan since election

A U.S. drone strike killed seven people in Pakistan's volatile North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday, security officials said, the first drone attack since a May 11 election in which the use of the unmanned aircraft was a major issue. U.S. President Barack Obama recently indicated he was scaling back the drone strike program, winning cautious approval from Pakistan. Pakistani security officials and tribesmen said the drone fired two missiles that struck a mud-built house at Chashma village, 3 km (2 miles) east of Miranshah, the administrative town of North Waziristan. They said seven people were killed and four wounded. It was not immediately clear if the victims were the intended targets. Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif said this month that drone strikes were a "challenge" to Pakistan's sovereignty.

BBC: Suspected US drone crashes in Somalia's Lower Shabelle

A suspected US drone has crashed in the southern Lower Shabelle region of Somalia, according to reports. The militant group al-Shabab said on Twitter that an American unmanned aircraft had come down near a town under its control. A regional governor told Reuters that fighters had shot at the object. The US uses drones in Somalia to support the Somali government and African Union (AU) forces as they battle the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab. The US Africa Command has not confirmed the reports.

CNN: Report: China gained U.S. weapons secrets using cyberespionage

American defense officials Tuesday pushed back against the notion that China has used cyberespionage to obtain extensive design information on advanced American weapons. "Suggestions that cyberintrusions have somehow led to the erosion of our capabilities or technological edge are incorrect," said Pentagon press secretary George Little. "We maintain full confidence in our weapons platforms." The Pentagon was responding to a list of weapons systems whose secrets had been compromised by Chinese cyberespionage, which the Washington Post says was in a confidential report by the Defense Science Board.

WaPo: Liberal hawks were vocal on involvement in Iraq but have been quiet on Syria

For interests on both sides of Syria’s civil war, this has been the week to increase the pressure. Hezbollah sent reinforcements to the troops of President Bashar al-Assad, and Russia reiterated its intention to furnish the regime with weapons. At the same time, Republican Sen. John McCain secretly visited rebels and promised to push the Obama administration to arm the retreating forces. The European Union allowed its weapons embargo to lapse as nations such as Britain and France appear increasingly eager to aid the opposition fighters. But amid the burst in outside engagement, one influential group seems noticeably silent. The liberal hawks, a cast of prominent left-leaning intellectuals, played high-profile roles in advocating for American military intervention on foreign soil — whether for regime change or to prevent humanitarian disasters. …But even as the body count edges toward 100,000 in Syria and reports of apparent chemical-weapons use by Assad, liberal advocates for interceding have been rare, spooked perhaps by the traumatic experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and the clear reluctance of a Democratic president to get mired in the Middle East.

Politico: Chuck Hagel sailing rather than flailing

Just three months ago, Chuck Hagel was flailing under fire on Capitol Hill, trying to convince his former colleagues in the Senate that he was the right man to run the Pentagon. Since then, the newly minted defense secretary has been dealing with massive budget cuts, tense flare-ups in Syria and North Korea and a widening sexual assault scandal that threatens to corrode the ranks. In spite of it all, he’s getting high marks — even from those who opposed him from the start. “I’m very pleased,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who during his confirmation hearing grilled Hagel on controversial remarks he made about Israel. Graham voted against Hagel but now says he’s happy with the way Hagel has tackled a flurry of national security challenges in his first three months on the job.

CNN: 2 U.S. officials shot in Caracas strip club

Two U.S. embassy officials were wounded Tuesday in a shooting, apparently at a strip club, in Caracas, Venezuela. The U.S. State Department said two members of the embassy suffered non-life-threatening injuries but did not provide details. The shooting occurred at the Antonella 2012 club, said Miroslava Gomez, a police spokeswoman.

The Hill: Former CIA chief: Marathon bombing ‘would not have happened’ in New York   

A terror attack like the bombing of the Boston Marathon would never have happened in New York City, according to former CIA Director Michael Hayden. Hayden, who also headed the National Security Agency, said the New York police department’s expansive spying on the city’s Muslim communities would have helped officials to identify the radical tendencies of the alleged bombers and prevent the attack. “If these two mopes were living in New York this attack would not have happened,” said Hayden, speaking at a panel on Tuesday organized by the Institute for Education. “The New York police department is far more aggressive, far more invasive, going what’s been termed ‘mosque crawling’ and a whole bunch of other things to permeate the Islamic-American community. Boston doesn’t do that,” he continued.

AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

CNN: Lawmakers question whether Holder gave false testimony

The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee is looking into whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath earlier this month when he said he wasn't involved in the "potential prosecution of the press," two Republican committee sources confirmed Tuesday. Though he testified in a May 15 Congressional hearing that he's "never heard of" the press being potentially charged for obtaining leaked material, it has since been reported that he signed off on the Justice Department's decision to seek a search warrant in 2010 for Fox News reporter James Rosen's private e-mails as part of a leak probe. Holder's testimony this month came amid criticism of the Justice Department's investigation of Associated Press phone records as part of alleged leaks by government officials. …Holder said Tuesday he is "not satisfied" with some of the guidelines on how prosecutors conduct leak investigations involving reporters. "We're going to have a real frank, good conversation about this," Holder told reporters following a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens. "And I think, we're going to make some changes because I'm not satisfied with where we are."

CNN: Freight train hits truck and derails in Maryland; it 'felt like an earthquake'

A CSX freight train collided with a commercial truck and derailed in the Baltimore area Tuesday, officials said, seriously injuring the truck's driver and leading to an explosion that a witness said could be felt blocks away. The crash happened in Rosedale, just to the east of Baltimore, firefighter Jonathan Meehan of Baltimore County said. The truck driver was taken to a hospital and is in serious but stable condition. An explosion and fire followed, sending up plumes of black smoke. But officials said there was little cause for concern.

CNNMoney: Wal-Mart pays $82 million fine for dumping hazardous waste

Wal-Mart will pay $82 million for violating the Clean Water Act and other environmental regulations, after dumping pesticides and other hazardous materials down the drain. The retail giant pleaded guilty to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act - all misdemeanors - in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) also pleaded guilty to separate charges filed in Kansas City, Mo., for improperly handling pesticides that had been returned by customers. The federal cases follow state charges that Wal-Mart already settled in California in 2010 and Missouri in 2012.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

San Francisco Chronicle: Conservative techies help GOP go digital

There has long been a libertarian, leave-us-alone attitude coursing through Silicon Valley. But it hasn't translated into political power for Republicans, as most conservative techies have locked themselves in a political closet of sorts – leery of coming out in a region dominated by Democrats. But two young Bay Area conservative techies who hope to help the GOP compete with Democrats in the use of technology are trying to change those attitudes. Garrett Johnson and Aaron Ginn have been cultivating a community of like-minded Bay Area techies through informal happy hours and get-togethers. At the same time, they've got the ear of top California and national conservatives who are eager to hear their ideas. They will begin their effort next month in San Francisco, hoping eventually to build the GOP's use of the Internet beyond the Bay Area.

Des Moines Register: Hatch's bid to run for governor 'likely'

Hard-driving Democrat Jack Hatch, a champion for health care and housing for low-income Iowans during two decades in the Iowa Legislature, has all but announced he’s running for governor. “It’s really likely,” said Hatch, a 62-year-old state senator from central Des Moines. “I’ve gone through the first test.” Hatch is the biggest-name Democrat yet to clearly signal intentions to run, offering a possible preview to next year’s race. It’s not official but widely expected that Republican Gov. Terry Branstad will run for an unprecedented sixth term.

Miami Herald: Florida Chief Justice Ricky Polston ends practice of congratulating new Eagle Scouts 

Florida’s highest-ranking judge ended a longstanding practice of sending letters of congratulation to Eagle Scouts earlier this year as the Boy Scouts of America agonized publicly over whether to admit gay members. Chief Justice Ricky Polston of the Florida Supreme Court discontinued the letter-writing policy in February, when the organization was rethinking its policy. The scouts’ national council voted Thursday to lift the ban on gay members, while keeping in place a ban on gay men serving as leaders.

Philly.com: Exclusive: Feds to review deadly force by Philly cops

With shootings by Philadelphia police rising to the highest level in over a decade, Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey has asked the Department of Justice to review the department's use of deadly force. The request follows a Philly.com story published May 14 documenting a 50-percent increase in the number of police shootings in 2012. Police in Philadelphia shot 52 suspects last year. Of those, 15 people died. In 2011, police wounded or killed 35 people.

INTERNATIONAL:

CNN: Newly discovered virus takes more lives, spreads

A new SARS-like virus recently found in humans continues to spread - with the worldwide total now at 49, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Of the 49 known infections with the MERS-CoV virus, 27 have resulted in death, the organization said. The latest deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi health ministry said Wednesday that three people died from their infections in the country's eastern region. The virus is "a threat to the entire world," the WHO's general director said Monday.

The Guardian: British forces are detaining dozens in Afghanistan, Philip Hammond confirms

Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, has confirmed that dozens of people are being detained by British forces at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan following allegations that the army is running a secret detention facility at the base. Hammond said 80 or 90 people were being held at the site. He said many of them posed a danger to British troops, and reiterated that they could not yet be handed over to Afghan authorities because of concerns that they would be mistreated. UK lawyers acting for eight of the men, some of whom they say have been held for up to 14 months without charge, have launched habeas corpus applications in the UK high court in a bid to free them, raising comparisons with the outrage over the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) rules dictate that British forces are only allowed to hold suspects for 96 hours. But in November last year, Hammond halted plans to hand suspected insurgents captured by British troops to Afghan security forces on the grounds they risked being abused and tortured.

BBC: Syria crisis: rebels condemn opposition coalition

Rebels on the ground in Syria have launched a blistering attack on the Syrian opposition coalition outside the country. A statement issued by the Revolutionary Movement in Syria said the coalition had failed to represent the Syrian revolution. The criticism comes amid Russian and US efforts to arrange a conference on Syria in June. An emergency UN debate on Syria is also due in Geneva on Wednesday. The statement by grassroots opposition groups inside Syria says the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SC) is unable to fulfil its obligations due to "ongoing discord".

ALSO SEE: CNN: Syrian arms embargo: Is EU too little, too late to turn tide against Assad?

CNN: Suicide bombers attack Afghan governor's office

Six men with explosives strapped to their bodies attacked a governor's office in northeastern Afghanistan just before dawn Wednesday, authorities said. One of the attackers blew himself up; the others were shot dead by Afghan security forces, said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the interior ministry. The attack at the officers of the Panjshir governor also left one police officer dead and four others injured. Panjshir is one of 34 provinces that make up Afghanistan. In recent months, militants have repeatedly tested the Afghan security forces.

CNN: French police arrest suspect in soldier's stabbing

French police arrested a man Wednesday in connection with the weekend stabbing of a soldier in a business district of Paris, according to the ministry of interior. The suspect is a 22-year-old with a prior record of petty crimes and recently converted to radical Islam, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV. The serviceman suffered wounds to the neck when an assailant attacked him from behind with a knife or box cutter in the La Defense neighborhood. The soldier, 23, was hospitalized with nonlife-threatening wounds, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement. "The aim was to kill the soldier because he was a soldier," Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the CNN affiliate on Saturday. The attacker wanted "to kill a soldier who is in charge of French security," he said.

WSJ: Clashes in Myanmar Spread

Sectarian violence between Myanmar's majority Buddhists and minority Muslims spread to the country's northeast on Tuesday in clashes that left mosques and Muslim-owned homes ablaze in the town of Lashio, near a major oil-and-gas pipeline to China, witnesses reported. Local residents said mosques and Muslim-owned shops were torched and continued burning late into the night. The violence was allegedly sparked by a heated quarrel between a Muslim man and Buddhist woman, which ended in the woman being doused with petrol and burned to death, residents said. Angry mobs later set fire to mosques and Muslim shops, in a scene similar to previous eruptions of violence in the country over the past year. Lashio residents said authorities had imposed an overnight curfew in the town of roughly 130,000.

Financial Times: EU eases hard line on austerity

Brussels will on Wednesday give its clearest signal yet that it is moving away from a crisis response based on austerity, allowing three of the EU’s five largest economies to overshoot budget deficit limits and pushing instead for broader reform. In its annual verdict on national budgets of all 27 EU members France, Spain and the Netherlands will be given a waiver on the annual 3 per cent deficit limit. Brussels will also free Italy from intensive fiscal monitoring despite its new prime minister’s decision to reverse a series of tax increases imposed by his predecessor. The European Commission will make these moves on the condition that national governments embark on stalled labour market reforms. Brussels believes the delay in implementing them has contributed to the region’s unemployment crisis. “There are limits to what can be achieved with austerity,” said Maarten Verway, a senior European Commission economist.

CNN: Australian lawmaker says hackers stole spy agency information

Hackers using a server in China stole the blueprints for the new headquarters of Australia's main spy agency "some time ago," an opposition senator said Wednesday, contradicting comments by the country's prime minister. The controversy stems from a TV report this week alleging that a cyberattack swiped the blueprints to the new headquarters of the ASIO, Australia's top intelligence organization, including details on the building's security and communications systems, its floor plan and the locations of its servers. "These events did take place some time ago; they were dealt with by ASIO," said George Brandis, the deputy leader of the opposition in the Senate who is responsible for national security issues. "I'm reassured by the director general about the way in which they were dealt with by ASIO."

NYT: A Mogul Comes to Lunch, and He Doesn’t Hold His Tongue

Sheldon G. Adelson is perhaps best known as a conservative casino mogul who spent tens of millions of dollars last year trying to defeat President Obama. But he is a larger-than-life lightning rod in Israel, too. He owns the largest-circulation newspaper here, a right-leaning tabloid which he calls “fair and balanced” but which some competitors denounce as speeding the decline of good journalism. He has sprinkled $200 million across the state’s hospitals, museums and universities. He is married to an Israeli, and close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At a luncheon here Tuesday, Mr. Adelson brought his two worlds together. He was crowned an honorary citizen of Jerusalem by the city’s mayor. And he flew in entertainers from his $2.4 billion Venetian resort in Macau: three male crooners in long brocade jackets and three-cornered hats, serenading the V.I.P. crowd with “That’s Amore” and “O Sole Mio.”

ALSO SEE: LA Times: Sheldon Adelson discusses Palestinians, peace efforts

BUSINESS:

WaPo: The economy is holding up surprisingly well in a year of austerity

A U.S. economy that was supposed to be barely hanging on is starting to look surprisingly robust. Housing prices rose faster over the past year than they have in the past seven, according to data out Tuesday. Consumer confidence hit its highest level in five years. The stock market rallied another 0.6 percent as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500, leaving it just short of an all-time high reached last week. And the national retail price of gasoline fell for six days straight through Monday and is down 16 cents a gallon since late February. It adds up to this reality: In a year when tax increases and spending cuts by the federal government were expected to bleed life out of the economy, the strengthening housing and financial markets are proving to be more powerful than acts of Congress.

CNNMoney: IMF cuts China growth forecast

The International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for China Wednesday, saying that the world's second largest economy must bring a rapid expansion in credit under control and combat income inequality. China's economy is now expected to grow by 7.75% in 2013, the IMF said, slower than the 8% forecast made earlier this year. The worsening outlook from the IMF coincides with a series of downgrades from private forecasters. UBS earlier this month lowered its full year forecast from to 7.7% from 8%.

The Hill: Reports: Former EPA Administrator Jackson heading to Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Tuesday that the technology giant has hired former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to head its environmental efforts. Cook broke the news at the D11 Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., in an on-stage interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, a technology news outlet that puts on the event. Cook was touting the company’s environmental record — noting it owns the largest solar energy farm and largest fuel cell of any non-energy firm — when he referenced Jackson’s hiring.

“She’s going to be coordinating a lot of this activity across the company,” he said, according to a live account of the event by AllThingsD.

NYT: Facebook Says It Failed to Bar Posts With Hate Speech

Facebook on Tuesday acknowledged that its systems to identify and remove hate speech had not worked effectively, as it faced pressure from feminist groups that want the site to ban pages that glorify violence against women. The activists, who sent more than 5,000 e-mails to Facebook’s advertisers and elicited more than 60,000 posts on Twitter, also prompted Nissan and more than a dozen smaller companies to say that they would withdraw advertising from the site. In a blog post, Facebook said its “systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate.” The company said it would review how it dealt with such content, update training for its employees, increase accountability — including requiring that users use their real identities when creating content — and establish more direct lines of communication with women’s groups and other entities.


Filed under: Washington AM Note
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Marie MD

    "Limitless future" to go along with that limitless brain matter of hers.
    The only "full" anything is her ego. Maybe she can work to help that husband of hers come out of the closet once and for all.

    May 29, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |