CNN: North and South Korea agree to idea of talks on shuttered industrial zone
After months of unsettling tensions, North and South Korea tentatively agreed Thursday to hold talks about reopening their shared manufacturing zone where Pyongyang halted activity in April. The North proposed the meeting to discuss the shuttered Kaesong Industrial Zone - a major symbol of cooperation between the two countries - along with other issues in a statement published by state-run media. "The venue of the talks and the date for their opening can be set to the convenience of the south side," it said. The South Korean Unification Ministry responded positively, saying, "We hope the talks between the two authorities will be a great opportunity to build trust between South and North." It said the timing, agenda and other aspects of the talks would be announced later.
CNN: Dissidents: Syrian rebels control crossing into Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
Syrian rebels have taken control of the only crossing between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Rebels attacked government checkpoints and battled Syrian forces in the largely abandoned city of Quneitra before gaining control of the city's border crossing, the opposition group said. A steady stream of gunfire could be seen in Quneitra from the Israeli-occupied side. Rebels opened fire on the Syrian forces, who responded with tank fire to try to force the rebels back. Mortars and small arms fire caused the bushes and shrubs to catch on fire.
CNN: Tropical Storm Andrea ready to pummel Florida with intense rain
Tropical Storm Andrea is set to wallop Florida with torrential rainfall as it prepares to make landfall Thursday. The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season made its debut Wednesday by pummeling Cuba with heavy downpours. As of 2 a.m. ET Thursday, Andrea was 240 miles west-southwest of Tampa, Florida, and was headed north at 10 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. The center of Andrea is expected to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle late Thursday before cutting across southern Georgia and moving up the East Coast on Friday and Saturday.
CNN: 6 dead, 14 pulled out alive in Philadelphia building collapse
Equipped with search cameras, microphones and motion detectors, and bathed in harsh LED lights that illuminated the darkness, rescue workers combed through piles of bricks and rubble early Thursday, listening for the faint tap-tap-tapping of life buried in the ruins of a collapsed building. A day earlier, the side of a building under demolition had given way and toppled onto a Salvation Army thrift store next door. Throughout the day Wednesday, dispirited emergency responders had carried out six people in body bags. But they received a momentary jolt of joy when, shortly before midnight, they pulled out 61-year-old Myra Plekam alive. She was the 14th survivor.
CNN: Obama reshapes national security team, rankles GOP
In one move Wednesday, President Barack Obama managed to reshape his national security team, bring longtime confidante Susan Rice to the White House and annoy Republican critics of the U.N. ambassador. Obama announced in the White House Rose Garden that Rice, who got caught up in political controversy over the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack, will replace the retiring Tom Donilon in the influential foreign policy post of national security adviser. Donilon will step down in July following this weekend's meetings between Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The president also said he would nominate Samantha Power of the National Security Council to succeed Rice at the United Nations.
WATCH: VIDEO – Obama announced a shake-up of his foreign policy team by appointing two advisers who have been criticized by Republicans.
San Francisco Chronicle: Obama host rose from rags to riches
Mike McCue remembers the pain of watching his widowed mother struggle to feed her children on food stamps – a steady diet of "Hamburger Helper, fish sticks and Stove Top Stuffing" – as they were forced out of the family home. The oldest of six children, he gave up his dream of going to the U.S. Air Force Academy to work and pay the family bills after his father, who had no health insurance, died of cancer. McCue, founder and CEO of the Flipboard "social magazine" app, recognizes the irony of hosting President Obama Thursday at his Palo Alto home for a Democratic fundraiser that will cost each guest at least $2,500. These days, McCue, 45, can afford it. The multimillionaire ranks as one of Silicon Valley's biggest success stories. He said his decision to open his home for the fundraiser is intended as a message to Republicans on Capitol Hill, especially those pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and pressing for cuts to safety-net programs.
LA Times: Obama to press China's Xi to stop cyber attacks
In January 2010, when Google accused Chinese hackers of infiltrating its network to track emails of human rights activists, the Obama administration didn't disclose what U.S. diplomats in Beijing believed: China's Politburo had directed the attack. Today the White House no longer shies from publicly accusing Beijing of launching a sophisticated range of cyber attacks on U.S. computer networks to steal corporate and government secrets — including those of naval propulsion systems and gas pipeline technology — worth billions of dollars. The dispute will take center stage when President Obama meets China's new president, Xi Jinping, on Friday for a two-day informal summit at the Sunnylands retreat in Rancho Mirage. White House aides say Obama will call for Beijing to take strong action against cyber attacks originating from its soil.
WSJ: IRS Staff Cite Washington Link
Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency's Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010. Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials, who have blamed lower-level workers in Cincinnati. Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea-party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants.
LA Times: Senate immigration bill teeters as it tilts rightward
The Senate immigration bill is poised to undergo a decidedly rightward shift in an attempt to attract more Republican votes, but that threatens to erode bipartisan consensus. Democratic and Republican authors of the bill have expressed a willingness to make changes and toughen the border security provisions as the sweeping immigration overhaul heads to the floor next week. But a debate has emerged over how much is too much. Leading the effort to engage Republicans is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is struggling to persuade reluctant conservatives to embrace a bill he helped write that they do not support. Rubio's performance could determine not only his political standing as a potential 2016 presidential contender, but the fate of the immigration overhaul.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Rubio ramps up pressure on immigration bill
CBS: House group: We've "found a way forward" on immigration
Members of the House's "group of 8" working on crafting immigration reform legislation emerged from a closed-door meeting Wednesday on Capitol Hill saying they have "found a way forward" on a comprehensive bill for the chamber, but will forge ahead without a key member of its ensemble. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho – a Puerto Rican immigration attorney – left the meeting with the announcement that he's parting ways with the group and will not support its version of the legislation. "The agreement when I first joined [the "group of 8"] was aliens have to pay for their own healthcare," he told reporters. "Now that has changed." Labrador said he was the only member to leave the group, and remains committed to immigration reform. He will be working with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., he said, on a piecemeal approach to the issue.
Politico: Senate farm bill stall will be felt across Capitol
The Senate’s farm bill cloture vote Thursday morning poses a critical test for the Agriculture Committee leadership, which needs a strong showing to clear the way for passage Monday and begin to heal the breach sparked by revisions in the commodity title. Center stage is Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, who finds herself cast as the older sister charged with getting her siblings to finish their chores. But beneath her calm — few are more adept at smiling and talking at the same time — the Michigan Democrat knows her time is running short. Impatient to move onto immigration reform, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needs to have the decks cleared by early next week, and any Senate stall on the farm bill will be felt across the Capitol.
CNN: IRS puts two on leave over lavish 2010 conference
The Internal Revenue Service has placed two employees on administrative leave in connection with a 2010 conference in Anaheim, California, which cost millions of taxpayer dollars. The employees were not identified in a Wednesday statement from IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel, nor were the exact circumstances of their alleged wrongdoing detailed. The incident involved a party inside a private suite at a hotel in Anaheim, the statement said. Food was allegedly provided free of charge, a violation of standards. Pending further review, the IRS has started the process of removing the employees.
Politico: GOP to Darrell Issa: Cool it
Shortly after Darrell Issa dubbed Jay Carney a “paid liar” on CNN last Sunday, House Republican leadership staffers called the California Republican’s aides with a message: Cool it. Issa’s aides promptly responded: The remark was over the top, they agreed, according to sources familiar with the interaction. But Issa himself is unbowed. In an interview with POLITICO, he again accused the White House of being less than truthful on key subjects — while avoiding the word “liar” — and refused to apologize for his Carney broadside. “In this case, you have an administration where what they say initially and what turns out to be the truth continues to evolve,” Issa said. “And I don’t think they’d question that.” Issa added that “the White House has tried to vilify me rather than getting into the facts.”
NBC/WSJ Poll: Health care law's unpopularity reaches new highs
President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law remains unpopular with the American public just months before it fully goes into effect, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows 49 percent of Americans say they believe the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea. That’s the highest number recorded on this question since the poll began measuring it in 2009. Just 37 percent say the plan is a good idea. As the political battle over implementation of the law heats up in Washington, the numbers mark an increase in unpopularity since July 2012, right after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obama’s overhaul. Back then, 44 percent of NBC/WSJ poll respondents called it a bad idea, vs. 40 percent who called it a good one.
Politico: Arizona’s Jan Brewer becomes unlikely ally of Obamacare
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has become an unlikely warrior for Obamacare. Brewer is a conservative Republican who sued to topple the health law, refused to set up a health insurance exchange and memorably wagged her finger at President Barack Obama on a Phoenix airport tarmac. But now she’s so determined to put the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in place in her state that she’s vetoing any legislation that reaches her desk until the Republican Legislature caves. It’s a posture that’s confounding conservatives who once embraced her for signing a toughest-in-the-nation crackdown on illegal immigrants and for defying the Obama White House.
CNN: Mitt Romney to CNN: Rice appointment ‘disappointing’
As Mitt Romney begins to re-emerge into the public spotlight with a Utah conference, the former Republican presidential nominee told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger he was disappointed with President Obama's pick of UN Ambassador Susan Rice to be his next national security adviser. "I find that a disappointing appointment on the part of the president. I think what she did was to very seriously mislead the American people about what happened in Benghazi. My greatest concern about the Benghazi events was the fact there was not a rescue effort attempted and that is very troubling to me," Romney said. You can watch extended excerpts of CNN's interviews with Mitt and Ann Romney on “The Lead” at 4 p.m. ET and “The Situation Room” at 5 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. ET. He was speaking about Rice, who days after the U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya were attacked on September 11 of last year went on the five Sunday talk shows and blamed the incident on protests in the region instead of calling it a terrorist attack.
CNN: Senate hopefuls unleash digs in first debate
Three weeks before voters choose a new U.S. senator in Massachusetts, the rival candidates made their first high profile attempt to discredit each other in a televised debate Wednesday. At stake is the U.S. Senate seat vacated earlier this year when Sen. John Kerry stepped down to become secretary of state. Voters will choose between longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Markey and Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez in the June 25th special election. The race, until now, has been played out in campaign events and on television ads that have turned nasty in the final stretch. Those jabs continued Wednesday when the rivals met for their first face-to-face debate. Gomez immediately went after Markey's long record in Washington.
BuzzFeed: Anthony Weiner: “I’m Gonna Win This Election, OK?”
In a hot, cramped basement on Williamsburg’s South 3rd Street, where New York City mayoral candidates courted the endorsement of a local progressive organization, voters grilled Anthony Weiner on the Twitter scandal that ousted him from Congress two years ago. But the comeback candidate, one of several mayoral hopefuls at the New Kings Democrats meeting Wednesday night, was confident as ever. “If you want to disqualify me for that, then that’s your choice. I can’t try to convince every single person,” he said, when New Kings member Jesse Strauss asked about the illicit tweets that Weiner sent — and then lied about sending — when he was a member of Congress. “I’m gonna win this election, OK?” said Weiner. “And I’m gonna govern this city really well. And I’m gonna do it based on a foundation of Democratic ideals, and I’m gonna do it on a foundation of progressive values, and I’m gonna do it smart.”
Brody File: Only On The Brody File: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz To Headline Iowa Evangelical Pastors Event
The Brody File has learned that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will both headline a private evangelical pastors conference to be held in Des Moines Iowa next month. Due to Iowa’s prominence and placement in the GOP presidential race, the appearance by Senator Paul will provide more evidence that he’s getting set to run for President of the United States. Cruz’s appearance will increase speculation about his aspirations in 2016 as well. Governor Rick Perry, Governor Bobby Jindal, Governor Scott Walker and Senator Marco Rubio, all considered potential presidential contenders were unable to make the event. The event is sponsored by The Iowa Renewal Project and is being spearheaded by influential evangelical organizer David Lane, who earlier this year arranged a trip to Israel for Senator Paul and his family so they could meet with top evangelical leaders in Iowa and elsewhere.
CNN: Report: Secret court order forces Verizon to turn over telephone records of millions
The U.S. government has obtained a top secret court order that requires Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the National Security Agency on an "ongoing daily basis," the UK-based Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday. The four-page order, which The Guardian published on its website, requires the communications giant to turn over "originating and terminating" telephone numbers as well as the location, time and duration of the calls. The order, published on the newspaper's website, does not require the contents of conversations to be turned over. CNN has so far been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the document.
If genuine, the order gives the NSA blanket access to the records of millions of Verizon customers' domestic and foreign phone calls made between April 25, when the order was signed, and July 19, when it expires.
ALSO SEE: ProPublica: No Warrant, No Problem: How The Government Can Still Get Your Digital Data
NBC Exclusive: CIA didn't always know who it was killing in drone strikes, classified documents show
The CIA did not always know who it was targeting and killing in drone strikes in Pakistan over a 14-month period, an NBC News review of classified intelligence reports shows. About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as "other militants,” the documents detail. The “other militants” label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security. The uncertainty appears to arise from the use of so-called “signature” strikes to eliminate suspected terrorists - picking targets based in part on their behavior and associates. A former White House official said the U.S. sometimes executes people based on “circumstantial evidence.” Three former senior Obama administration officials also told NBC News that some White House officials were worried that the CIA had painted too rosy a picture of its success and likely ignored or missed mistakes when tallying death totals.
CNN: Captured U.S. soldier's letter revives family's hopes
The family of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier captured by the Taliban in 2009, received a letter from him recently - reviving their hopes that the 27-year-old army sergeant is still alive. Bergdahl's father mentioned receiving the letter in an e-mail exchange with Dwight Murphy, the spokesman for the local POW/MIA group in Boise Valley, Idaho. "We have received a letter from Bowe through the Red Cross!" the father says in the exchange. "He was scripted and redacted but he was no doubt alive and his faculties fully functioning as of two months ago." He did not say when he got the letter, but Murphy copied and pasted the exchange with the father on his Facebook page after receiving his permission to do so.
CNN: Pentagon official: Russian warships may be carrying weapons to Syria
CNN has learned that U.S. intelligence agencies have identified three Russian amphibious warships in the eastern Mediterranean that are believed to be carrying weapons shipments that might be used to resupply the Syrian regime, according to a Pentagon official. The official declined to be named due to the sensitive nature of the information. The United States has been tracking the ships since they left Russian ports several days ago. U.S. satellites were able to see some indications of containers being loaded onto the ships. Although it's not confirmed, it's believed the ships may be carrying some components of the controversial Russian S-300 air defense missile system and other weapons for the regime.
WaPo: Sens. Coburn and Portman question ‘official time’ for backlogged VA
Two Republican senators raised concerns Wednesday about Department of Veterans Affairs employees who spend all their federally paid work time on union activities at a time when the agency is trying to plow through a massive claims backlog. Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) questioned the practice in a letter to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, asking how many employees spend 100 percent of their paid time on union-related work — known as “official time” — and whether the department has had to hire new employees to cover their formal job duties, among other details. The senators noted that 188 VA employees worked entirely on official time between January 2012 and February 2013. That number also was contained in documents that the conservative group Americans for Limited Government obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
NYT: Kerry Meets With Official of Venezuela to Set Talks
After months of tensions between the United States and Venezuela, Secretary of State John Kerry met on Wednesday with the Venezuelan foreign minister, Elías Jaua, in Antigua, Guatemala, and announced the start of talks aimed at improving relations between the two countries. The overture came after another hopeful sign, Venezuela’s release from jail and subsequent expulsion of an American documentary filmmaker who had been accused of seeking to undermine the government. The filmmaker, Tim Tracy, was put on a commercial flight to Miami on Wednesday morning. “We agreed today, both of us, Venezuela and the United States, that we would like to see our countries find a new way forward, establish a more constructive and positive relationship,” Mr. Kerry said after meeting with Mr. Jaua on the sideline of a session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States. American officials said Venezuela had requested the meeting. Appearing separately, Mr. Jaua said, “We have faith and confidence that this meeting marks the start of a relationship of respect.”
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: Court rules minors can buy 'morning-after' pill without prescription
Emergency contraception known as the "morning-after pill" can be sold over-the-counter to minors, a federal appeals court in New York decided on Wednesday. A generic two-pill version could soon be available without a prescription or any age restrictions, according to an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. But the three-judge panel separately blocked unrestricted sales of a newer, different Plan B one-pill version, until it can further consider the matter. The Obama administration has been criticized by some women's rights groups for trying to stop contraception sales to underage females.
CNN: Holder says he has 'no intention' of stepping down
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday he has "no intention" of stepping down in the face of criticism over Justice Department handling of national security leak investigations that involved scrutiny of reporters. Holder made the comment to NBC News. He also sent a brief response to House Judiciary Committee Republicans who demanded a direct explanation from him no later than Wednesday regarding a statement he made about reporters and national security leaks. They sent a May 29 letter to Holder asking a series of questions about his comments and his role in authorizing searches of a journalist's e-mails, but were angry when they got an initial response from a deputy.
CNN: TSA drops plan to allow small knives on planes
The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday abandoned plans to allow small knives and certain other banned items back on passenger flights, surrendering to fierce criticism from airlines, unions and Congress. In a statement, the TSA said it would continue to enforce the "current prohibited items list," which does not permit small knives. The TSA first announced the plan to allow small knives and sporting equipment in March, saying doing so would permit airport screeners extra time to focus on more dangerous objects like bombs and related components. The change would also have brought the United States into alignment with rules governing flights in most other countries, he said.
Denver Post: Colorado's Ken Salazar joins top law firm, will open a Denver office
Ken Salazar, who spent most of his career as a public servant, first working for a Colorado governor and most recently for a U.S. president, has joined one of the nation's top law firms as a partner. Salazar will open a Denver office for WilmerHale, a firm he said he was attracted to out of the 20 or so companies that came calling because of the quality of its attorneys and its participation in advocating for social justice. Its clients have included South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela. "For me, to have come from the place that I came from and to have lived this life of dreams, this is now a professional capstone as a lawyer," Salazar said.
Des Moines Register: Tom Vilsack won't run for Iowa governor again
Democrat Tom Vilsack considered making a comeback as Iowa governor, but said today he has decided against challenging the likely GOP foe, Terry Branstad. "You can’t look forward by looking backward," Vilsack, 62, told The Des Moines Register this afternoon. "I think it’s time for a new generation of leaders in Iowa and I think it’s important that that new generation be given an opportunity.” Vilsack, who is currently the U.S. secretary of agriculture, was governor for two terms from 1999 to 2007. He said he won't be running for governor in 2014, confirming what Democratic strategists in Iowa had predicted for the last couple weeks.
New Jersey Star Ledger: Democrat proposes giving him two
State Democrats spit fire Tuesday when Gov. Chris Christie decided to spend millions of dollars to hold a special election for the U.S. Senate in October, rather than on the same day as the November general election three weeks later. So today, one of the governor's critics said she had the perfect solution. Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) announced she is drafting legislation to temporarily move up the Nov. 5 general election to Oct. 16, the date Christie set for voters to decide on a replacement for U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday at the age of 89.
CNN: Myanmar's Suu Kyi: 'I want to run for president'
Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is blunt and unapologetic. "I want to run for president and I'm quite frank about it," she told a panel during the first day open discussion at the World Economic Forum in Myanmar on Thursday. "If I pretended that I didn't want to be president, I wouldn't be honest and I would rather be honest with my people than otherwise." Suu Kyi's determination to drag her country free from the stifling restraint of an military regime is finally being realized more than two and a half years after her release from years of house arrest. However, two years into the presidency of Thein Sein, she says that the vast majority of Myanmar's people are not seeing the benefits of reform.
CNN: Indian police arrest 3 in gang rape of American woman
Indian police have arrested three men in the gang rape of an American woman who authorities say was attacked after visiting a popular Hindu temple in northern India. Police announced the arrests Thursday. All three are in their early 20s, Police Superintendent Vinod Kumar Dhawan said. Evidence collected from a vehicle police seized has been sent to a lab for analysis, he said. A day earlier, authorities arrested three other men in the case, but the woman said they were not the men who attacked her. The 31-year-old woman was raped after leaving the Vashishth Temple site around 1 a.m. Tuesday, according to police. After failing to find a taxi to take her back to her hotel, she accepted a ride from three men who took her to a wooded area where they raped and robbed her, authorities said.
BBC: Turkey PM Erdogan set to return as protests continue
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to return to Turkey as mass protests against his government continue. Mr Erdogan has completed a three-day tour of North Africa as demonstrators turned out in Ankara and other cities, many calling for him to quit. The demonstrations spread after police cracked down on protests over the redevelopment of an Istanbul park. Mr Erdogan has called the protests undemocratic, though his deputy has apologised for police violence. On Wednesday, as protesters thronged Istanbul's Taksim Square for a sixth straight day, activists called for the police chiefs of affected cities to be dismissed.
NYT: China Seen in Push to Gain Technology Insights
A government-financed research institute in the Pearl River Delta here boasts an impressive range of specialties, from robotics to nanomedicine to magnetic resonance imaging. But not all the cutting edge developments may be the result of indigenous innovation, according to American prosecutors, who last month charged three Chinese scientists at the New York University School of Medicine with taking bribes to share research findings with their real employers: the Shenzhen institute and a separate Shanghai medical technology company. Though considerable attention has been focused on Chinese cyberespionage efforts, the institute is at the vanguard of a related push to bolster China’s competitiveness by acquiring overseas technology directly from Chinese scientists working in the United States and other developed countries, say American officials and analysts. Those scientists are heavily recruited to return to China or, in some instances, to share their knowledge while remaining overseas, according to the federal court case and a book released last month by three experts who do China research for the United States government.
WSJ: Shortages of Drugs Threaten TB Fight
The U.S., India and other nations are facing shortages of tuberculosis drugs—threatening to reverse decades of progress against a deadly disease that is becoming increasingly untreatable. In India, some clinics are turning away sick children due to short supplies of pediatric doses, and in a risky move, adult pills are sometimes being split to approximate children's dosages. In the U.S., some patients who are infected, but not yet suffering symptoms, have lacked access to the most commonly used drug for that form of TB, leaving them instead to wait for the supply to improve or take another drug that doctors fear could worsen drug resistant TB if not properly used. The U.S. has also had repeated shortages of medicines that work against drug-resistant TB strains.
BBC: Bangladeshi workers fall sick from 'contaminated water'
Hundreds of Bangladeshi garment factory workers have fallen ill after drinking suspected contaminated water in their workplace near the capital Dhaka, officials say. Many employees were taken to hospital with stomach cramps, a spokesman for the Starlight Sweaters factory said. Police said someone may have poisoned the water supply. In April, more than 1,100 people were killed and about 2,500 wounded when a factory building collapsed near Dhaka. The Rana Plaza collapse was one of the world's worst industrial disasters and sparked global outrage. It has also led to violent protests as workers demand better pay and working conditions.
Financial Times: Paris threatens EU-US talks as China trade war looms
Paris is threatening to block EU-US trade talks that Britain wants to launch at this month’s G8 summit in Northern Ireland if French demands to exclude cultural industries such as music and film are not met. Washington, London and Brussels are pushing hard for a new transatlantic trade agreement to boost the US and European economies, with President Barack Obama swinging his weight behind the move. But France has mounted a fierce campaign to defend “l’exception culturelle” – an internationally-agreed system that allows subsidies, tax breaks and quotas to protect local film, television and music industries from being swamped by mainly American, English-language products. President François Hollande has made preserving the system a “red line” for agreeing to talks.
CNN: Swollen rivers bring more flooding in central Europe
The German city of Dresden waited anxiously Thursday to see if the swollen River Elbe, which has brought misery to thousands in the Czech Republic, would breach its flood defenses. The river is expected to crest in Dresden later Thursday or early Friday. It is running at about 8.5 meters and is expected to reach about 9 meters (30 feet) when the flow peaks. The city is just one of many across central Europe to face the prospect of the worst floods since the devastating inundations of 2002. The streets of the nearby historic town of Meissen are under several feet of water ahead of the river's peak, affecting homes and businesses, and forcing the evacuation of some 4,500 people.
CNNMoney: Federal Reserve: Recovery still 'modest' and 'moderate'
Modest, moderate and measured. Those are the words the Federal Reserve is still using to describe the U.S. recovery, four years after the recession officially ended. "Overall economic activity increased at a modest to moderate pace since the previous report," the Federal Reserve said in its latest Beige Book report, released Wednesday afternoon. Overall, the 47-page report uses the word "moderate" 56 times and the word "modest" 54 times. It describes hiring as increasing at a "measured pace" and prices rising at a "mild" pace. Call them "the M-words."