CNN: San Francisco transit workers end strike, contract talks to continue
Striking union workers for San Francisco's transit system resume work Friday without a contract while negotiations continue, officials said. "BART workers will return to service without a contract agreement in place," said Marty Morgenstern, the leader of the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency. "Both parties have agreed and are putting good faith in the continuing negotiations." The Bay Area Rapid Transit is expected to resume services at 3 p.m. local time Friday.
CNN: Does DNA evidence contradict Zimmerman?
Prosecutors in the George Zimmerman trial presented evidence of DNA test results to the jury Wednesday that may contradict the former neighborhood watch captain's story of how Trayvon Martin died. Additionally, records show that Zimmerman completed 149 hours towards a degree in criminal justice, that he applied to be a police officer in Virginia, and that he applied for a ride-along with the Sanford Police Department. The court reconvenes Friday morning. Will the prosecution rest today?
CNN: New England Patriots offer trade-in for Aaron Hernandez jerseys
They've already dropped him from the team, but now the New England Patriots are trying to reel in Aaron Hernandez's jerseys this weekend. A week after the former tight end was charged with murder, the Patriots are encouraging parents to swap any No. 81 jersey for that of any other team player.
CNN: Crews make major progress fighting deadly Arizona blaze, now 80% contained
Crews battling the Arizona wildfire that killed 19 firefighters made significant progress Thursday, moving within sight of fully corralling the blaze, authorities announced. Despite still gusty winds and temperatures in the 90s, the Yarnell Hill Fire near Prescott was 80% contained as of Thursday evening, according to Inciweb, a federal website that disseminates information from agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. That's a significant upgrade from earlier in the day, when it was 45% contained.
WX Post: Rosy data suggest faster job growth
Encouraging economic reports this week are boosting hopes that the job market picked up momentum in June. On Friday, the government is scheduled to release its monthly estimates of unemployment and job growth, which are among the most closely watched health indicators of the labor market. Several private readings issued in advance of that data showed businesses increased their pace of hiring, and other indicators, such as auto sales and manufacturing activity, were also better than expected.
SEE ALSO: Reuters: Steady U.S. job gains to keep Fed's focus on tapering
Associated Press: Industry panning Obama's climate change push
President Barack Obama's push to fight global warming has triggered condemnation from the coal industry across the industrial Midwest, where state and local economies depend on the health of an energy sector facing strict new pollution limits. But such concerns stretch even to New England, an environmentally focused region that long has felt the effects of drifting emissions from Rust Belt states.
NYT: British Company Is Awarded Contract to Administer Health Rollout
Racing to meet an October deadline, Obama administration officials said Thursday that they had awarded a contract worth as much as $1.2 billion to a British company to help them sift applications for health insurance and tax credits under the new health care law. The company, Serco, has extensive experience as a government contractor with the Defense Department and intelligence agencies, and it also manages air traffic control towers in 11 states and reviews visa applications for the State Department. But it has little experience with the Department of Health and Human Services or the insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, where individuals and small businesses are supposed to be able to shop for insurance.
Politico: Obama honors service members at BBQ
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama honored service members at a Fourth of July BBQ celebration on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday. The president addressed the crowd just before 6 p.m., according to pool reports.
WX Post: In Connecticut, a struggle to launch Obamacare
Facing tight deadlines and daunting workloads, states across the country are scaling back ambitions for implementing the Affordable Care Act. At a monthly board meeting of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, members of the standing-room-only crowd got a reminder that they, too, were behind schedule. The insurance marketplace they were working on nights and weekends won’t be completely ready on time.
WX Post: On immigration reform, nobody’s happy with Republican Joe Heck
On the flight home from Washington last week for the Fourth of July recess, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) read all 1,200 pages of immigration reform that had just passed the Senate. It is a document that probably has no political future in the GOP-controlled House, but Heck may be a prime example of why House Republicans will be forced to grapple with immigration in the next few months, despite deep opposition within their caucus and their party.
HuffPost: Voting Rights Act Decision Leaves GOP With Tough Choices
When the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights act last week, it handed Republicans tough questions with no easy answers over how, and where, to attract voters even GOP leaders say the party needs to stay nationally competitive. The decision caught Republicans between newfound state autonomy that conservatives covet and the law's popularity among minority, young and poor voters who tend to align with Democrats. It's those voters that Republicans are eyeing to expand and invigorate the GOP's core of older, white Americans.
The Hill: After sequestration threat, DC celebrates Fourth with fireworks
Following a threat from sequestration, Washington-area residents and visitors jammed the Mall Thursday evening for an annual fireworks display that was less expensive than recent years’ exhibits. Earlier this year, the National Park Service’s annual display was threatened by the $85 billion in across-the-board federal spending cuts.
The Weekly Standard: Treasury Secretary Uses Naturalization Ceremony to Plug Immigration Bill
At a pre-Independence Day naturalization ceremony at the Treasury Department Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew used about one-third of his address to a roomful of newly sworn-in citizens to criticize the America’s immigration system and plug the current immigration legislation. According to prepared remarks, he told these newest Americans that "too many immigrants do not get a fair shot at the American dream. Too often, they are forced to live and work in the shadows."
CNN: Gen. Dempsey no stranger to the singing spotlight
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been known to break out in song in recent years. But he got perhaps his biggest audience yet Thursday when he belted out the national anthem with members of the Army Chorus prior to the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball game in the nation's capital. Dempsey's Sinatra-like voice has been heard all over town.
HuffPost: Oregon Adopts Resolution Calling For Congressional Amendment To Overturn Citizens United
Oregon joined 15 other states earlier this week in an official call for Congress to put forth a resolution overturning the Supreme Court's landmark 2010 Citizens United ruling, which opened the floodgates for vast sums of money to flow into elections. With the state Senate's passage of House Joint Memorial 6, Oregon legislators pushed back against the Supreme Court's ruling that corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships, unions and other entities are granted the same free speech rights as individuals, which they are now allowed to express by funneling unlimited amounts of cash into super PACs.
CNN: Poll: Most love America, but don't think founders would feel the same
With signs of patriotism abounding for the Fourth of July, a new survey indicates seven in 10 Americans think the Founding Fathers would be disappointed by the way the United States has turned out, 237 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But that doesn't mean Americans themselves are displeased.
Business Week: Anthony Weiner Runs for Mayor of New York, and Away From His Past
Anthony Weiner is irritated there are still people who aren’t ready to take him seriously. Two years after resigning from Congress in disgrace after tweeting photos of his crotch to several women and then falsely claiming a hacker had victimized him, he’s running for mayor of New York—testing the turnaround time for political redemption. The Democrat says he wants to put his past behind him and talk about the issues facing the city; yet for many New Yorkers his past is an issue.
Boston Herald: Republicans: Put John Kerry on a plane
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry — who spent the Fourth of July on sun-splashed Nantucket even as the chaos from a military takeover rocked Egypt — drew fire from Republican critics who said it’s a bad time for the nation’s top diplomat to be seen cavorting on an island getaway. “It doesn’t look good, and I think it sends the wrong message” said Republican strategist Brad Marston. “If I were advising him, I’d already have him on a plane.” As first reported on bostonherald.com, Kerry, who owns a house and a yacht on the ritzy retreat, was seen yesterday strolling down Federal Street away from July Fourth festivities on Main Street in jeans and a light-colored polo shirt.
Reuters: Russia increasingly impatient over Snowden's airport stay
Edward Snowden should find another country to seek refuge in, a Russian official said on Thursday, signaling Moscow's growing impatience over the former U.S. spy agency contractor's stay at a Moscow airport. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia had received no request for political asylum from Snowden and he had to solve his problems himself after 11 days in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.
NYT: Résumé Shows Snowden Honed Hacking Skills
Mr. Snowden’s résumé, which has not been made public and was described by people who have seen it, provides a new picture of how his skills and responsibilities expanded while he worked as an intelligence contractor. Although federal officials offered only a vague description of him as a “systems administrator,” the résumé suggests that he had transformed himself into the kind of cybersecurity expert the N.S.A. is desperate to recruit, making his decision to release the documents even more embarrassing to the agency.
The Guardian: European firms 'could quit US internet providers over NSA scandal'
European businesses are likely to abandon the services of American internet providers because of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, the European commission has warned. Neelie Kroes, the commission vice-president who speaks on digital affairs, predicted that providers of cloud services, which allow users to store and access data on remote servers, could suffer significant loss of business if clients fear the security of their material is under threat. The warning came as it appeared that the Americans and the Europeans were to start investigating alleged breaches of data privacy in the EU as well as US intelligence and espionage practices.
TRANSPORTATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: Police: Guns, Molotov cocktails found in truck near Seattle campus
Why would someone allegedly steal a pickup truck and guns in Montana and then go to the University of Washington area with Molotov cocktails and a bullet-resistant vest? Police say they're trying to figure that out. University officers arrested a 21-year-old Nevada man on Wednesday night after finding him near the Seattle school in a truck that had been reported stolen recently from a Butte, Montana, residence, campus police Chief John Vinson said Thursday.
NYT: I.R.S. Scrutiny Went Beyond the Political
The controversy that erupted in May has focused on an ideological question: Were conservative groups singled out for special treatment based on their politics, or did the I.R.S. equally target liberal groups? But a closer look at the I.R.S. operation suggests that the problem was less about ideology and more about how a process instructing reviewers to “be on the lookout” for selected terms was applied to any group that mentioned certain words in its application.
WSJ: Permits Soar to Allow More Concealed Guns
A growing number of Americans are getting permission to carry firearms in public—and under their clothes—a development that has sparked concern among some law-enforcement authorities. Applications for “concealed-carry” permits are soaring in many states, some of which recently eased permit requirements. The numbers are driven in part by concern that renewed gun-control efforts soon could constrain access to weapons, along with heightened interest in self-defense in the wake of mass killings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.
WX Post: Police investigate gun-rights activist’s video shot in District
U.S. Park Police and the D.C. police are investigating the authenticity of a video that surfaced Thursday morning that appears to show activist Adam Kokesh loading a shotgun in Freedom Plaza and describing himself as part of the “final American Revolution.” The police said in a joint statement on Thursday that they are aware of the video posted by Kokesh, which “appears to have been taken in Freedom Plaza.” Kokesh had scheduled a pro-gun protest on July 4 and had asked 1,000 people to carry loaded rifles as they marched across the Memorial Bridge into the District and back to Arlington National Cemetery.
WX Post: Verizon pursues all-wireless phone service in seaside N.Y. town
Battered by Hurricane Sandy, this seaside getaway is being rebuilt with a radically redesigned telephone system — a glimpse of future technology that many residents say they don’t want. Verizon, the only phone company in town, wants most of the island and its 500 homes to go all-wireless, ending for good its century-old copper wire phone network.
Sacramento Bee: 14 injured at California fireworks show
At least 14 people were injured due to malfunctioning fireworks at an annual 4th of July show northwest of Los Angeles. Police Cmdr. John Parks said a detonation occurred about 9:20 p.m. Thursday at the city-run Fireworks Extravaganza located in a large community park in Simi Valley. It wasn't clear how many people were in attendance but Parks said the event usually attracts several thousand revelers.
The State: Warrior Challenge honors fallen soldier
S.C. National Guard Sgt. Nicholas Craven started his July Fourth honoring his former superior officer by running, lifting weights, doing sits-ups and pull-ups, crawling on all fours and carrying another person up the State House steps. He and 243 other fans of cross-fit exercise participated in the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Warrior Challenge that benefitted the college fund for the two children of the late Deputy Ryan Rawl. Rawl, 30, was one of three members of the S.C. National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company killed a year ago by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. The first lieutenant was Craven’s platoon leader during the deployment.
Baltimore Sun: 'Wire' creator faults Bernstein for city's crime spike
Former Baltimore Sun crime reporter and creator of "The Wire" David Simon is placing the blame for Baltimore's violence spike on State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein, citing the effects of what Simon says is an unwillingness on the top prosecutor's part to take tough cases. Killings are now up 13 percent over last year's increase, with non-fatal shootings on the rise as well.
Chicago Tribune: Young guns: Exam age dropping to 18
Eighteen-year-olds will be able to take the Chicago Police Department exam under a change designed to increase the pool of eligible applicants and boost diversity, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. In 2010, then-Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis raised the application age from 21 to 25 to attract a more mature crop of officers.
CNN: Egypt's forces move against Muslim Brotherhood; attacks against police reported
Egypt's top prosecutor opened an investigation Thursday into claims that Mohamed Morsy and top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood incited violence and the killing of protesters, a day after the military ousted the country's first democratically elected president. The prosecutor, Gen. Abdel Maquid Mahmoud, issued an order preventing Morsy and 35 others from leaving the country while they are under investigation, state-run Middle East News Agency and EgyNews reported. The news came as the Muslim Brotherhood and others called for Morsy supporters to take to the streets Friday across Egypt to protest the military's actions, while Egypt's armed forces announced it would guarantee the rights of people to protest as long it did not result in violence or destruction of property.
CNN: Egypt's Adly Mansour: Interim president, veteran judge, mystery man
NYT: For Islamists, Dire Lessons on Politics and Power
Associated Press: In his final days, Morsi was isolated but defiant
CNN: Mandela family feud is 'like spitting in' his face, Tutu says
South African archbishop Desmond Tutu has a few choice words for the feuding family of Nelson Mandela: overcome your differences and stop tainting the anti-apartheid icon's name. Tutu intervened after a bitter dispute among relatives over the burial of Mandela's three deceased children. His grandson exhumed them from Qunu two years ago, then reburied them in Mvezo. The rest of the family sued the grandson, and a court ordered him to return the remains to Qunu, where the former president spent his childhood. They were reburied there this week.
BBC: China and Russia conduct joint naval drill
China and Russia are beginning joint naval drills which Beijing has described as the country's largest with a foreign partner. The drills, which are taking place in the Sea of Japan, last from 5-12 July. People's Liberation Army chief Gen Fang Fenghui said on Tuesday the drills did not "target any third parties", but aimed to deepen ties with Russia. However they come amid tensions with regional neighbours including Japan and the Philippines over maritime disputes.
TIME: In China, Higher Education Brings Few Guarantees
This year almost 7 million college graduates will pour into China’s job market, the highest number ever recorded in the People’s Republic’s history. By the end of April, only 35% of soon-to-be college graduates had found jobs, according to a survey by Mycos, a data firm in Beijing. Post-graduates were faring even worse, with merely 26% having signed an employment contract. The problem is so severe that it even drew the attention of Xi Jinping, China’s recently named President, who in May met with soon-to-graduate college students in the port city of Tianjin, encouraging them to take even the most grassroots jobs and to “issue extraordinary performances in ordinary job situations.”
NYT: Belgium: Call to Curtail Next King
Belgian lawmakers on Thursday seized on King Albert II’s decision to abdicate and called for his son, Prince Philippe, to be a purely ceremonial monarch.
CNNMoney: Chrysler recalls nearly half-million vehicles overhead restraint issue
Chrysler took the preemptive step this week of recalling nearly half a million vehicles because of issues with the active head-restraint function found in several makes and models. The problem is related to a "potentially faulty microcontroller (that) entered the supply chain after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused a worldwide microcontroller shortage," Chrysler Group said in a news release issued Wednesday.
Bloomberg: Hong Kong Builders Seen Slowing Home Sales to Control Prices
Hong Kong builders will put the brakes on home sales for the rest of the year after government curbs to rein in prices sapped demand, according to Bocom International Holdings Co. and Centaline Property Agency Ltd. Developers are holding off sales after property transactions in the city plunged to a two-decade low in the second quarter in response to a doubling of stamp duties on buyers and sellers, and tightened regulations on marketing material of new apartments. Home prices have dropped 2 percent from a historic high in March, after having more than doubled since early 2009.
CNBC: Bun Fight: US Burger Chains Do Battle in London
London—often the laughing stock of American food connoisseurs— is set to become a haven for U.S. burger lovers as two of the country's most popular chains open stores in the U.K. capital. Five Guys, a fast-growing upmarket burger chain, opened the doors to its first non-U.S. outlet in London's Covent Garden on Thursday to coincide with Independence Day. By Thursday evening there was a three-hour wait for a table at the restaurant. Hot on its heels, rival Shake Shack will open its first location in London just 300 meters away on Friday.
The Guardian: Ferrari puts brakes on staff emails
It makes some of the fastest cars on the planet, but the Italian manufacturer Ferrari is concerned that the indiscriminate use of emails in the office is slowing down its employees. So, in a move likely to spark fresh debate about the intricacies of workplace netiquette, the company – one of Italy's leading luxury brands – has decided to clamp down on the number of group emails sent and remind staff that, as tiresome as it may be, they should perhaps "talk to each other more and write less"