Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen tweets:
CNN: Colorado blaze leaves 2 dead as firefighters battle on
The forecast Friday provides little hope for firefighters trying to make headway against a raging wildfire northeast of Colorado Springs. The high temperatures and blustery winds will be back, along with little chance for meaningful rain. The weather is expected to cool some over the weekend, with calmer winds, but no significant showers. The Black Forest Fire has been dubbed the most destructive in state history after it scorched close to 16,000 acres, destroyed 379 homes and claimed at least two lives by Thursday evening.
CNN: 4-year-old boy dies as storms pummel mid-Atlantic and South
Powerful storms roared through the Mid-Atlantic states and portions of the Deep South, claiming the life of a child and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of households. At the peak of the outages, some 300,000 customers from Maryland to Georgia were without electricity, officials said. The National Weather Service said a tornado was spotted near Colesville, Maryland, in suburban Washington. In Richmond, Virginia, a 4-year-old child died and his father was injured when a tree fell on them Thursday afternoon, CNN affiliate WTVR reported. The incident happened at Maymont, a 100-acre Victorian estate.
Bloomberg: D.C. Gridlock Slicing Into Services of Cities Across U.S.
Philadelphia is scrounging for money to reduce child lead poisoning. Mesa, Arizona’s sales-tax revenue is softening as Boeing Co. (BA) suppliers cut back. Oklahoma City anticipates less spending from its largest employer, Tinker Air Force Base. U.S. mayors gathering in Chicago this week for the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting say the automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration are starting to ripple through their cities, forcing them to make difficult decisions about funding services their residents demand. The mayors blame partisan gridlock in Washington and are calling on Congress and President Barack Obama to end the sequestration before more reductions take a deeper toll on cities that can’t deficit-spend like the federal government.
CNN: White House: Syria crosses 'red line' with use of chemical weapons on its people
Syria has crossed a "red line" with its use of chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, against rebels, a move that is prompting the United States to increase the "scale and scope" of its support for the opposition, the White House said Thursday. The acknowledgment is the first time President Barack Obama's administration has definitively said what it has long suspected - that President Bashar al-Assad's forces have used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war. "The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete," Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said in a statement released by the White House. "While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades," Rhodes added. The administration also appeared to indicate that it was stepping up its support of the rebels, who have been calling for the United States and others to provide arms needed to battle al-Assad's forces.
ALSO SEE: CNN: Washington reacts to White House decision on Syria
ALSO SEE: Reuters: U.S. studying Syria no-fly zone near Jordan border: diplomats
Politico: Sources: Obama climate rollout may come in July
President Barack Obama may be just a month away from releasing the second-term climate change strategy that activists and donors are waiting impatiently for, although the details and timing appear to still be in flux. Two former Obama administration officials told POLITICO late Thursday that they have heard that Obama plans to roll out a climate strategy in July. That meshes with the timing some Democratic donors say they have heard from Obama at closed-door fundraisers in recent weeks, according to a report from Bloomberg earlier Thursday evening. “That is what I heard as well from an informed source,” one former senior administration official told POLITICO. But some climate donors and strategists say administration officials are still hedging at the timing, and especially the details of what would be rolled out.
WaPo: Document: Major resources needed for Obama Africa trip
When President Obama makes his first extended trip to sub-Saharan Africa this month, the federal agencies charged with keeping him safe won’t be taking any chances. Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency. Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close. The elaborate security provisions — which will cost the government tens of millions of dollars — are outlined in a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post.
The Hill: Obama at LGBT event: Nation at 'turning point'
President Obama told attendees at an LGBT Pride Month celebration that the U.S. needs to get marriage equality "done now," but that he believed the nation had reached a "turning point" on gay rights. "We're not going to have to wait that long," Obama said. "From Minnesota to Maryland, from the U.S. Senate to the NBA, it's clear we've reached a turning point." The president said that progress could be traced "from the courage of those who stood up." "Eventually America gets it right. That doesn't mean we can be patient," Obama said. "We know from our own history that change happens because we push it to."
ALSO SEE: CNN: LGBT protesters arrested at Boehner office
CNN: First attempt to change Senate immigration bill fails
Backers of a bipartisan Senate immigration reform plan Thursday defeated an attempt by Republican opponents to alter the border security requirements in the bill, which could have significantly undermined support for the compromise legislation. By a vote of 57-43, senators rejected the proposal by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to delay the legalization process for millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States until the Department of Homeland Security could certify it had effective control over the Southern border for six months. Grassley, who as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee is managing the bill for his party, complained Democrats used a procedural motion to avoid a direct vote on his amendment. … Also Thursday, there were positive signs coming from gang of eight members surrounding fresh negotiations to bolster border security in the bill and win the support of conservative critics. "We're working on a border security measure that can be supported both by people who support a path to citizenship and people who want further border security, and I'm optimistic we can find something," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.
ALSO SEE: National Journal: GOP Not Backing Down on Border Security in Immigration Bill
The Hill: House votes to limit Obama's authority to detain US citizens
The House voted Thursday evening to put limits on President Obama's power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens who are terrorist suspects, but rejected a proposal to eliminate the authority altogether. In a close 214-211 vote, members approved an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that says nothing in U.S. law can deny citizens the right to a court hearing. Twenty-one Republicans voted against the amendment, and only three Democrats voted for it. Many believe the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) gives the president the authority to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects who are U.S. citizens. Goodlatte said his language is aimed at resolving the issue.
CNN: FBI director, congressional leaders defend data mining
A top-secret program that collects phone records of Americans is legal, conducted properly and possibly could have helped detect a 9/11 hijacker had it been in place before the 2001 terrorist attacks, FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday. Mueller's remarks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing led an effort by Obama administration officials and some in Congress to push back against a firestorm of criticism about domestic surveillance in the aftermath of classified leaks last week that disclosed details of covert surveillance programs. Civil liberties groups and legislators on the left and right are among critics condemning the secret programs under the National Security Agency as government overreach beyond the intention and limits of the Patriot Act originally passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. …However, other legislators of both parties joined Mueller in defending the programs that were disclosed through leaks of classified information.
ALSO SEE: The Hill: Lawmakers planning bill to limit contractor access to NSA secrets
WATCH: VIDEO – FBI Dir.: Snooping may have stopped 9/11. CNN's Dana Bash reports.
Politico: White House rediscovers House GOP's phone numbers
The White House has discovered a new species: rank-and-file House Republicans. After years of complaints from the GOP that President Barack Obama’s congressional liaisons are like ghosts on Capitol Hill, the White House team is beginning to reach out in what Republicans call small and modest ways. Rep. Cory Gardner, an up-and-coming and popular Colorado Republican, got an invitation recently to speak about energy at the White House. In turn, Gardner invited an Obama aide to speak at his energy efficiency caucus. “When I got elected, the leg affairs team came into our office,” Gardner told POLITICO. “I met with them in early 2011. Then it was radio silence — until this week.”
CNN: In New Hampshire, early signs of the 2016 presidential race
Earlier this year, as Frank Guinta was driving his children to school, he turned on a local radio station and heard Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul talking about Guinta's failed attempt to win re-election to Congress just a few months earlier. Paul was discussing the future of the Republican Party and the need for the GOP to maintain its traditional political base while also welcoming more libertarian-minded conservatives. The Kentucky senator then started citing specific data from the 2012 general election, including Guinta's race. …But Guinta, who is considering running for office in 2014, said he was not shocked by the moment. After all, this is New Hampshire, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary. And Republicans with designs on the White House are always keeping close tabs on what happens in the Granite State. It would just be a few months later, in May, when Paul would actually visit the state to headline a New Hampshire GOP fundraiser and convene a listening session with local activists. It was not lost on anyone that Paul dug into his own political pocket and donated $10,000 to the state GOP. Despite smug dismissals of early campaign coverage by press critics, media elites and some of the potential candidates themselves, there are signs everywhere - including Paul's intricate recitation of New Hampshire congressional contests - that the 2016 race for president is starting to take shape, at least among Republicans.
WaPo: Hillary Clinton decries sequester for deep cuts to scientific research
Hillary Clinton on Thursday denounced the deep federal spending cuts known as the sequester for dangerously hindering scientific research, and she urged “citizen action” to raise awareness about the consequences. Addressing a charity benefit dinner in Chicago for Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, the former secretary of state made a rare foray into the budget battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years. She said the estimated $1.7 billion in cuts to the National Institutes of Health budget would result in 2,000 fewer research grants, and she warned that thousands of scientists and research staffers likely would lose their jobs. “In the days and months ahead, all of us who care deeply about finding a cure for [epilepsy] and other diseases need to be very loud and passionate about the continued research funding that is necessary,” Clinton said. “I do think there has to be a greater awareness on the part of the American people about what this will mean – not just today or next week, but in years to come.”
Politico: Santorum: Why Romney didn’t win
Rick Santorum ripped Mitt Romney’s campaign Thursday for mishandling President Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe last summer. The former Pennsylvania senator recalled all the business owners who spoke at the Republican National Convention. “One after another, they talked about the business they had built. But not a single—not a single —factory worker went out there,” Santorum told a few hundred conservative activists at an “after-hours session” of the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington. “Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn’t care about them. You know what? They built that company too! And we should have had them on that stage.” Santorum did not mention Romney, who he challenged in the primaries, by name during a 21-minute speech in a dim ballroom at the Marriott (a company on whose board Romney sits). But there was no doubt who he was talking about.
ABC: U.S. Fears Edward Snowden May Defect to China: Sources
U.S. intelligence officials on the trail of rogue contractor Edward Snowden are now treating the National Security Agency leak case as a possible foreign espionage matter, raising fears that the 29-year-old computer whiz may be attempting to defect to China with a trove of America's most sensitive secrets, according to U.S. officials. "I think there is a real concern about that," a senior official familiar with the case told ABC News on Thursday. Another law enforcement official said it was a "very legitimate" worry. In an interview Wednesday with Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, Snowden said his country "had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and [in China] for years."
ALSO SEE: CNN: China keeps quiet on NSA leaker Snowden
WSJ: Foreign Stakes Shield Two Phone Firms from Sweep
The National Security Agency's controversial data program, which seeks to stockpile records on all calls made in the U.S., doesn't collect information directly from T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, in part because of their foreign ownership ties, people familiar with the matter said. The blind spot for U.S. intelligence is relatively small, according to a U.S. official. Officials believe they can still capture information, or metadata, on 99% of U.S. phone traffic because nearly all calls eventually travel over networks owned by U.S. companies that work with the NSA. Nonetheless, the decision to exclude companies with overseas ties could present future challenges for the U.S. government as long as such investors continue to play a large role in operating the country's telecom infrastructure. The nation's other two nationwide wireless carriers, AT&T Inc. T +1.91% and Sprint Nextel Corp., S -0.41% have long cooperated with the government, people familiar with the matter said.
WaPo: Many women in CIA still encounter glass ceiling, agency report says
The announcement this week that a White House lawyer will become the first female deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency may seem to signal that women have finally arrived at the spy agency known since its inception in the 1940s for its testosterone-fueled work culture. In addition to the surprise appointment of Avril D. Haines, who served as President Obama’s deputy counsel on national security issues and is the first outsider appointed to such a high position in the insular agency, women head up two out of the CIA’s four directorates. A woman serves as the agency’s executive director. And women make up 46 percent of the agency’s workforce. But while it’s true that women have made significant progress at the CIA, the glass ceiling is still firmly in place for many women, particularly in the clandestine service and at the top levels of leadership. Then-CIA Director David H. Petraeus was troubled to discover that of all the officers promoted to the Senior Intelligence Service last year, only 19 percent were women. He called for a serious review of internal CIA work culture to find out why. That report, “CIA Women in Leadership,” headed by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and released without fanfare on the CIA Web site this spring, called for “significant reforms.”
Honolulu Star Advertiser: Army holding court-martial for major accused of leaks
An Army officer who worked for U.S. Pacific Command is on trial in Hawaii for illegally possessing and passing classified national defense information, the Army said today. Maj. Seivirak Inson’s court-martial trial began at Wheeler Army Airfield Wednesday, said Capt. Leslie Waddle, a spokeswoman for the Army’s 8th Theater Sustainment Command. Inson now is with the sustainment command, but previously worked at U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Operations Center, Waddle said. Inson is the third case of alleged security leaks to come up in three months time in Hawaii, known to be a hotbed for spying on the United States by both allied and non-allied nations.
AVIATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
WaPo: FDA, facing cybersecurity threats, tightens medical-device standards
The security analysts wanted to know how easy it would be to hack into medical devices used in hospitals, knowing the danger if outsiders could gain control. They found the answer when they managed to figure out hundreds of passwords for equipment that included surgical and anesthesia devices, patient monitors and lab analysis tools. “We stopped after we got to 300,” said Billy Rios, who found the passwords with his colleague Terry McCorkle. They alerted the federal government about what they had done, contributing to the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to tighten the standards for a wide range of medical devices. The FDA’s move, announced Thursday, reflects growing concerns that the gadgets — which include everything from fetal monitors used in hospitals to pacemakers implanted in people — are vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches that could harm patients.
NYT: F.B.I. Changes Course on Information Sharing
F.B.I. officials acknowledged Thursday that in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings they had changed procedures for sharing information about people who have been investigated for links to extremists. Under the new procedures, all case agents will be alerted when a person who is in one of the government’s databases travels, regardless of whether an investigation of the person is still open. Previously, only the heads of local terrorism task forces were alerted about such travel. In the aftermath of the bombings, it was not clear whether an agent who had investigated one of the bombers in 2011 had been informed that he had traveled to Russia. F.B.I. officials have said that if the agent had been informed, it probably would not have led the agent to reopen the investigation.
CNN: Court: Human genes cannot be patented
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that human genes cannot be patented. But in something of a compromise, all nine justices said while the naturally occurring isolated biological material itself is not patentable, a synthetic version of the gene material may be patented. Legal and medical experts believe the decision will have a lasting impact on genetic testing, likely making varieties more widely available and more affordable. The overriding legal question addressed was whether "products of nature" can be treated the same as "human-made" inventions, allowing them to be held as the exclusive intellectual property of individuals and companies.
ALSO SEE: CNN: New rules for protests at Supreme Court
NYT: Obama’s Pen May Shape Scope of Marriage Ruling
A Supreme Court ruling this month that could overturn the ban on federal benefits for same-sex couples is presenting the Obama administration with a series of complicated and politically sensitive decisions: how aggressively to overhaul references to marriage throughout the many volumes that lay out the laws of the United States. The decisions could affect Social Security checks, immigration laws and military benefits for same-sex couples, among other issues, with the outcomes based on whether the couples live in a state that allows them to marry. Gay rights advocates, aware that a Supreme Court ruling that overturns the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act would be the beginning of their push to have the federal government recognize same-sex marriage, are urging White House officials to plan to modify hundreds of mentions of marriage throughout federal statutes and regulations. Many legal analysts say there is a substantial chance that the Supreme Court will strike down the 1996 law, which in defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.
CNN: Airbus sends first A350 XWB into the sky
Aviation enthusiasts around the world had their eyes on France Friday morning, eager to catch the long-awaited inaugural flight of the Airbus A350 XWB. The aircraft took off from Toulouse-Blagnac airport at around 10 a.m. local time on a four-hour test flight. "I knew it was going to be impressive, but I was blown away," said Airbus chief operating officer, John Leahy, following the A350 XWB take off. "Did you hear how quiet it was? Did you hear what you didn't hear? We're going to set new standards. Not just for comfort, not just for performance. But for environmental friendliness. People living around airports won't even know we're taking off," he said to the attending press.
Hartford Courant: Newtown Church Bells Will Ring On Anniversary
In Newtown Friday, church bells will toll, clergy will host an inter-faith gathering and activists will call for stricter gun laws as the community observes the six-month anniversary of the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history. The day will also mark the launch of a new organization, created to help children who survived the massacre. Named for Benjamin Wheeler, who died in the attack on Dec. 14, the group called Ben's Lighthouse (For Newtown's Children) will hold a dedication ceremony Friday night, followed by a daylong festival for children to attend Saturday. Memorial ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. when the Newtown Congregational Church will ring its bells to honor "all who have been affected by violence both near and far," said a spokeswoman for the church.
Orlando Sentinel: Amazon to bring 3,000 jobs to Florida in deal with state
Amazon will bring 3,000 jobs to the state in a deal that also means Floridians will have to start paying taxes on purchases from the online retailer. Gov. Rick Scott's office announced Thursday that Florida had landed the deal with Amazon to create 3,000 full-time jobs with benefits and more than $300 million in capital investment by the end of 2016. About 1,500 of those jobs could come to the Interstate 4 corridor. It is unclear when Florida residents will have to start paying taxes on Amazon purchases, but it could be as early as next spring. Scott was vague on most details of the deal, such as where distribution centers or offices for the company might be built or how much tax-incentive cash would be required to close the deal.
Chicago Tribune: Jacksons gather cadre of lawyers for sentencing
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife have assembled a formidable team of eight lawyers assisting in their defense as they prepare for sentencing July 3, court filings show. He has five lawyers and she has three, including a recent addition: Chicago attorney Carolyn Pelling Gurland, who on Thursday asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to be allowed to appear on her behalf. Gurland, who specializes in sentencing, joined former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's legal team before he was given a 14-year term in 2011. Another previous client: once-imprisoned media mogul Conrad Black.
Boston Herald: Ed Markey’s campaign phones home (to Maryland) for help
With his Senate campaign battle too close for comfort, Democrat Ed Markey is calling in his home state cavalry. His home state of Maryland, that is. “While the race is taking place in Massachusetts, the results will be felt, for better or for worse, across the country,” says an email sent out by Maryland Democratic leaders to its party faithful. “We here in Maryland have the opportunity to help keep a Democrat in this Senate seat.” The email plea, obtained by the Herald, once again puts an uncomfortable spotlight on the longtime Malden congressman’s close ties to Maryland, where for two decades he has owned a $1 million-plus home in the upscale D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase. The home state issue is damaging enough to Markey that the Herald has learned the Democrat’s campaign is running a new TV ad campaign featuring residents of Malden testifying on the congressman’s behalf.
Detroit Free Press: Stakes high as Orr asks creditors today for big sacrifice
The Motor City’s day of reckoning is here. The insolvent city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, has called together dozens of major city creditors for a historic meeting this morning at the Westin hotel at Metro Airport, officially kicking off negotiations with stakes that could hardly be higher. Riding on the outcome of these talks — which could extend into August once creditors go back to mull over Orr’s offer to settle debts for fewer than 10 cents on the dollar — are Orr’s hopes to keep the city out of bankruptcy court and, ultimately, his challenge to vastly reduce the city’s staggering debts so he can restructure city government. The goal, his team says: Put Detroit in a position to grow and provide better public services in a sustainable way for years to come.
CNN: Haunted by 2009 bloody chaos, Iranians vote in presidential election
Television cameras zoomed in on his hand Friday as Iran's supreme leader filled out the very first ballot in the national election to replace outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slipped the folded paper into the ballot box and turned to the cameras. His vote officially opened the ballots as he called on the 50 million Iranians eligible to vote to pick one of six candidates in the "epic" election. "My expectation of our endeared people is for everyone to take part, and I would recommend that they go to ballot boxes as soon as possible and not to delay," he said. After the "Green Movement" uprising that flooded Tehran's streets following Ahmadinejad's reelection in 2009, many voters, who back then chanted the protest slogan "Where's my vote?" may sit this one out.
CNN: Turkish prime minister to meet for first time with protest leaders
Turkey's prime minister held his first meeting Thursday night with leaders of Taksim Solidarity Platform, a loose coalition of various groups of demonstrators from Gezi Park, platform leader Eyup Muhcu said. The meeting cames after 24 hours of calm in Istanbul and followed a Wednesday evening gathering between the prime minister and a group of individuals attempting to act as mediators for the protesters in Gezi Park. Earlier, the prime minister called on protesters camped out in the park to pack up and leave. "We are running out of patience," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his party in the capital, Ankara, on Thursday. "I am making this warning for one last time." The government has been delivering conflicting messages. On the one hand, it appeared to slightly soften its stance by saying it would hold a referendum on Gezi Park's fate, but at the same time, the government delivered yet another ultimatum Thursday for the demonstrators to evacuate.
Jerusalem Post: Poland, Czechs balk on blacklisting Hezbollah
Poland and the Czech Republic expressed “reservations” about blacklisting Hezbollah at a discussion in Brussels earlier this month, JTA has learned. Both Poland and the Czech Republic are considered more supportive of Israel than Western European nations that supported blacklisting Hezbollah, the source said. Denmark, Sweden, Germany and France support blacklisting Hezbollah, the source said. It has long been believed that France was blocking such a move out of concern that it would diminish European influence in Lebanon, a former French colony. The positions were expressed at a June 4 meeting to discuss Europe’s response to claims that Hezbollah was behind a July bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria.
Time: Nicaragua’s Chinese Canal: Behind the Audacious $40 Billion Bid to Build a Rival Panama Canal
More than 150 years ago, U.S. businessmen and politicians plotted the creation of a canal through the isthmus nation of Nicaragua that would link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Now, according to Nicaraguan officials, what Americans like former President Theodore Roosevelt and the powerful Vanderbilt family once dreamed, a Chinese consortium intends to make real. On Thursday afternoon, the Nicaraguan government of President Daniel Ortega muscled into law a sensational 50-year concession that grants a little-known private Chinese company the authority to “design, develop, engineer, finance, construct, possess, operate, maintain and administer” the Great Nicaragua Canal megaproject. Estimated to cost $40 billion, it includes an interoceanic canal, an oil pipeline, an interoceanic “dry canal” freight railroad, two deepwater ports, two international airports and a series of free-trade zones along the canal route. The canal would be at least twice as long as the Panama Canal and wider in order to accommodate the newest generation of supertankers. An executive representing the enterprise suggested that it would be the biggest such project in Latin American history.
Der Spiegel: Prepping for POTUS: Berlin Ramps Up Security for Obama Visit
US President Barack Obama isn't arriving in Berlin for his first presidential visit to the German capital until next week. But the city is already bracing itself for a massive security effort, including measures much tighter than when Obama visited five years ago as a presidential candidate. At that time, Obama spoke before an enthusiastic crowd of some 200,000 people in front of the city's Siegessäule, or "Victory Column," with throngs of people stretching down one of Berlin's central boulevards, the Strasse des 17 Juni. Next week, Obama will be speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate, like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan before him, to a crowd of several thousand invited guests.
CNN: 2 dead, 15 missing after ferry capsizes in Philippines
Two people have died and 15 others are missing after a ferry capsized early Friday as it traveled between islands in the central Philippines, authorities said. A rescue effort involving the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy, as well as local fisherman, has so far managed to save 42 people, said Bernardo Alejandro, director of the Office of Civil Defense in Bicol, the region where the ship went down. A helicopter and reconnaissance plane have been deployed in the search for survivors in the water, he said.
CNNMoney: U.K. regulator eyes currency market manipulation
Regulators in the United Kingdom are looking into allegations that traders from some of the world's largest banks have been manipulating benchmark foreign-exchange rates to make profits on the backs of clients. Bloomberg News broke the story earlier this week, citing interviews with several anonymous traders who claim the practice has been occurring for at least 10 years. Chris Hamilton, a spokesman for the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority, told CNN that the agency "is aware of these allegations and has been speaking to the relevant parties." He declined to comment further. The controversy follows revelations last year that Wall Street banks colluded to manipulate Libor, a collection of global interest rates.
Financial Times: Hopes for G8 trade and tax deals dented
Hopes of a deal to boost the world economy at next week’s Group of Eight summit were in the balance on Thursday night, as France and Canada resisted a last-minute push for an ambitious trade and tax package. France’s refusal to include its film industry in EU-US trade negotiations has thrown into doubt plans to launch talks on Monday, when European leaders meet Barack Obama, US president, at the summit in Northern Ireland. Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, is also resisting – partly on grounds of tax confidentiality – plans to crack down on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion by requiring the disclosure of the ultimate owner of shell companies. David Cameron, British prime minister and summit host, met Mr Harper on Thursday in London to try to break the impasse, while European trade ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Friday in an effort to agree a mandate for the US trade talks.
ALSO SEE: WaPo: NSA revelations, modified wheat cast a pall on U.S. trade talks with Europe
CNNMoney: Smith & Wesson booked record sales as gun debate raged
The past 12 months have been bad for gun violence, but good for Smith & Wesson. The gun maker reported preliminary results Thursday showing that sales for the fiscal year ended April 30 hit a record $588 million, a 43% increase versus the year prior. Earnings were a record $1.22 a share, up from 40 cents a share in the prior fiscal year. Both figures came in slightly ahead of analyst expectations. Smith & Wesson (SWHC)shares rose 5.3% in after-hours trading. The gun industry saw a spike in demand from consumers fearing that the national debate over gun control would yield new regulations limiting their ability to buy certain firearms.