CNN: Exclusive: Juror pushes for new laws following Zimmerman trial
The woman known as Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial released a statement exclusively to CNN Wednesday pushing for new laws. "My prayers are with all those who have the influence and power to modify the laws that left me with no verdict option other than 'not guilty' in order to remain within the instructions. No other family should be forced to endure what the Martin family has endured," she wrote. The juror, who was interviewed by CNN, said she will not grant other interviews and wants to get back to a normal life. "For reasons of my own, I needed to speak alone," she said.
CNN: That gooey heat? It's gets worse Thursday
Like many things in life, it's going to get worse before it gets better. That lardy layer of humid, sticky heat oozing over the Northeast and Midwest is getting hotter and spreading out Thursday. But cooling rain will wash it away in some places in the evening. The worst of it started out on the National Weather Service map as bright orange spots over parts of New England and Michigan earlier this week. The spots have grown nearly together like a bad rash, forming a seething blotch from Massachusetts to South Dakota. Heat above 90 degrees will combine with roughly 100% humidity to make it feel like it's in the 100s.
CNN: Heat over Northeast kills 6
CNN: California fire torches almost 20,000 acres, threatens thousands of homes
CNN: Rolling Stone cover of bombing suspect called 'slap' to Boston
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's face on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone sparked a backlash against the magazine Wednesday in social media and in boardrooms around the country. "THE BOMBER," the cover reads. "How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster."
WSJ: Decision Day Nears for Detroit Bankruptcy
This automobile capital and onetime music-industry powerhouse could within days become the country's largest-ever municipal bankruptcy case, people familiar with the matter said, as the city's emergency manager accelerates his plan for restructuring nearly $20 billion of long-term liabilities. The expected bankruptcy filing would come after Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager, failed to reach agreements with enough of the city's bondholders, pension funds and other creditors to restructure Detroit's debt outside of court.
WX Post: Global attitudes reflect shifting U.S.-China power balance, survey concludes
People around the globe believe that China will inevitably replace the United States as the world’s leading superpower, but that doesn’t mean they like the prospect, according to a new study on global attitudes. The survey that the Pew Research Center conducted in 39 countries confirms much of the conventional wisdom in Washington about the shifting balance of power between the United States and China.
CNN: Obama glad Cordray 'finally confirmed' by Senate
President Barack Obama was "finally" able Wednesday morning to welcome the newly sworn-in consumer protection chief he first nominated two years ago. The U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Cordray Tuesday night as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a 66-34 vote that was the culmination of a bitter fight over presidential nominations. Cordray was formally sworn in Wednesday morning by Vice President Joe Biden.
WX Post: Obama to tout Affordable Care Act on Thursday
With concerns mounting about the viability of his signature health-care law, President Obama on Thursday is planning to highlight some of the more popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act with remarks at the White House. Obama is expected to focus on insurance company rebates that will be mailed to 8.5 million U.S. households this summer. The rebates, which average about $100 per family, are a result of a provision of the law that requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect on medical care, rather than executive salaries or marketing. Companies that fail to meet that standard must provide rebates to customers.
The Hill: White House signals Obama may snub Putin over Snowden asylum
The White House for the second day in a row signaled President Obama could scrap planned one-on-one talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month in Moscow if Edward Snowden is granted asylum in that country. White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday refused to elaborate on the president’s autumn travel plans, admitting it was possible he was being “deliberately vague.”
Bloomberg: Obama’s UN Envoy Nominee Power Pledges to Defend Israel
Samantha Power, President Barack Obama’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, disavowed her decade-old critiques of American foreign policy and promised to root out anti-Israel “bias” at the international body. Power said she will “work tirelessly to defend” Israel in an organization where many countries don’t recognize it, and to lobby for the Jewish state to have a rotating seat on the Security Council for the first time.
CNN: Tentative deal reached on Senate student loans package, aides say
A bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative agreement on a student loans package Wednesday night, multiple aides from each party said. Sen. Tom Harkin, Democratic chairman of the committee that oversees federal education programs, agreed to the deal, one of those sources close to the negotiations told CNN. The Iowa senator's support is key because it would likely persuade most Democratic senators to vote for the bill.
SEE ALSO: Roll Call: A New Governing Majority in the Senate?
CNN: Partisan slugfest expected at IRS hearing
In this corner, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee who alleges without proof that the Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal has links to the White House. And in this corner, the panel's top Democrat who accuses the GOP chairman of leading a witch hunt for political motives that don't exist. The two congressional heavyweights will square off Thursday at another committee hearing on the IRS targeting of groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny - the third by the oversight panel and eighth overall by Congress on an issue that has become a symbol of partisan friction.
SEE ALSO: WX Post: House Democrats, GOP press competing views before another hearing on IRS controversy
CNN: House passes two bills to delay key Obamacare requirements
The House of Representatives passed two bills Wednesday postponing two key provisions of Obamacare, marking nearly 40 times that the Republican-controlled House has attempted to repeal or roll back parts of the president's signature first term accomplishment. One measure, which passed 264-161, delayed for one year the requirement that employers provide health insurance, something the Obama administration already announced it was doing earlier this month. Thirty-five Democrats joined Republicans on the vote.
CNN: Lawmakers spar with national security officials on surveillance
House Judiciary Committee members sharply questioned senior Justice Department and national security officials on Wednesday about the classified surveillance programs revealed by intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Lawmakers from both parties expressed frustration with how the law involving the collection of phone numbers and other “metadata” had been applied over the years via the authority of a secret national security court. One senior member raised the possibility of Congress shelving the surveillance initiative altogether if changes aren’t made.
HuffPost: Democrats Counting On Paul Ryan To Help Pass Immigration Bill
Democrats doggedly pursuing a far-reaching immigration bill are counting on help from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate last year and an unlikely candidate for delivering the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's second-term agenda. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who is frequently mentioned in the GOP lineup of possible 2016 presidential candidates, stands apart from many fellow House Republicans in favoring a way out of the shadows for the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. in violation of the law.
SEE ALSO: Politico: House leaders plan immigration tour
Bloomberg: House Republican Urges Voting-Rights Fix Before Elections
A House Republican lawmaker said the Supreme Court’s decision rolling back a core part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act “severely weakened” balloting protections and urged Congress to rewrite the provision before the 2014 elections. Representative James Sensenbrenner told the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington yesterday that the majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, ignored provisions in the law that allow state and local governments to escape oversight if they comply with anti-discrimination rules.
CNN: Marco Rubio’s Iowa problem
Does Marco Rubio have an Iowa problem? If Sam Clovis is any barometer, the answer is an unmitigated yes. Clovis is a mustachioed, suspenders-wearing college professor from Sioux City who's running for Senate in Iowa, as a Republican. He’s not the favorite to win the nomination, but he’s no slouch either. He also happens to be a popular conservative talk radio host who speaks the language of grassroots Republicans and has a keen sense of what motivates them. So the fact that Clovis posted a low-budget web video Wednesday trashing Rubio for his work on the Senate immigration reform bill is an ominous sign for the Florida senator and would-be presidential candidate.
SEE ALSO: HuffPost: Marco Rubio Slammed By Black Lawmakers Over Stalled Judicial Nominees
CNN: Spitzer: Prosecutors ‘overreached’ in Zimmerman trial
Democrat Eliot Spitzer, a former state attorney general and governor of New York, said Wednesday that prosecutors went too far in seeking a second-degree murder charge of George Zimmerman, and argued as a result “justice has not been served” in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. In an interview with CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live,” the New York City comptroller candidate also said he hopes President Barack Obama will address the racial and legal tensions surrounding the recent trial.
NYT: Filibuster Deal Heralds Stirrings of Compromise
The Senate agreement to pull back from unilateral rules changes that would have eroded the power of the filibuster was hailed by both parties as the beginning of a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation that saved the Senate. But to some policy makers practiced in the art of compromise, it represented a potential missed opportunity.
The Hill: Bachmann says Treasury lying to Americans about the national debt
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Wednesday night said the Treasury Department is lying to Americans about the size of the federal debt, since it has not changed significantly for the last few months even though the government continues to borrow. Bachmann cited a report from this week saying the size of the debt has not changed since mid-May. "That would be called a lie in our house. That is not acceptable to my husband and I. You don't lie to us," Bachmann said on the House floor.
Politico: Immigration could hinge on August recess
The White House and its immigration reform allies are banking on the August recess as their next — and possibly last — major opportunity to compel House Republicans to act. With the issue stalled in the House, the monthlong congressional break is the linchpin of a campaign that President Barack Obama, Senate immigration leaders and a broad coalition of groups now expect they’ll have to wage through the end of the year. They realize they must make progress in the next month to stand any chance of keeping the issue alive into the fall.
CNN: First on CNN: Navy, Marine Corps hope some publicity helps deter sexual assaults
The Navy and Marine Corps will begin publishing their own versions of a sex offenders list as part of an effort to crack down on sexual assaults, CNN has learned. Both branches will start posting the results of courts-martial, including sexual assault proceedings in the services, on their home pages. Convictions and acquittals will be listed, according to a Navy official who described the plan to CNN. He declined to be named until it is officially announced. The Navy, however, does not plan to publish the names of individuals.
CNN: Sequester cuts keep Air Force general worried about readiness
Forced spending cuts known as the sequester, and the furloughs to the workforce that have come with it, are compromising the Air Force's readiness for unknown contingencies and its ability to modernize, the top officer said Wednesday. "We are trading modernization against readiness. It's the only place we have to go for funding because of this arbitrary mechanism that is sequestration, and it’s causing a real problem on the readiness side of the house and putting our ability to modernize over time at risk," Gen. Mark Welsh, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, said. Welsh spoke at the opening session of the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado during a discussion moderated by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
CNN: U.S. hosts Cuba migration talks
U.S. and Cuban officials held migration talks for the first time in more than two years on Wednesday. Some saw the meeting as a sign that long-frigid relations between the two nations are slowly thawing. But others said that the meeting was overshadowed by the Cuban weapons shipment to North Korea uncovered by Panamanian authorities this week.
WSJ: Facing Crises From Day One
Less than three weeks into her job at the National Security Council, Susan Rice is now at the center of a large set of foreign-policy challenges, including the White House response to the fast-moving crisis in Egypt. A longtime champion of human rights and democracy, Ms. Rice now finds herself in an awkward position: She is implementing a policy that so far inflicts no punishment on the military leaders who have jailed Egypt's first democratically elected president, and that doesn't call his ouster a coup.
WX Post: Flow of U.S. military gear across Afghan borders halts amid dispute
An escalating dispute between the Afghan government and the United States over customs procedures has halted the flow of U.S. military equipment across Afghanistan’s borders, forcing commanders to rely more heavily on air transport, which has dramatically increased the cost of the drawdown, according to military officials. The Afghan government is demanding that the U.S. military pay $1,000 for each shipping container leaving the country that does not have a corresponding, validated customs form. The country’s customs agency says the American military has racked up $70 million in fines.
TRANSPORTATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
CNN: ACLU raises privacy concerns about police technology tracking drivers
Police around the United States are recording the license plates of passing drivers and storing the information for years with little privacy protection, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday. The information potentially allows authorities to track the movements of everyone who drives a car. The ACLU documented the police surveillance after reviewing 26,000 pages of material gathered through public records requests to almost 600 local and state police departments in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
CNN: Bulger trial witness: I lived to tell tale of Russian roulette-style drama
Former drug smuggler William David Lindholm has a harrowing tale of how reputed Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger allegedly tried to extort $1 million by having a bullet fired past Lindholm's head. In the end, Lindholm lived to testify Wednesday at Bulger's federal trial about surviving a high-stakes, Russian roulette-style game. Bulger is charged in the deaths of 19 people during some two decades when prosecutors say he terrorized South Boston as the head of the Irish mob. He also faces charges of extortion, racketeering and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
USA Today: Man allegedly shot by Aaron Hernandez gives grand jury testimony
The man who says Aaron Hernandez shot him and left him for dead in a Florida alley testified Wednesday before a grand jury that is deciding whether to issue a murder indictment against the former New England Patriots tight end.
Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. seeks new tactic in financial crisis prosecutions
U.S. federal prosecutors are considering a new strategy for criminally charging Wall Street bankers who packaged and sold bad mortgage loans at the height of the housing bubble, according to a federal official familiar with the investigation. The official said federal authorities are finding new evidence they say indicates intent to commit fraud over the packaging and sale of mortgage bonds backed by subprime home loans in some of the civil lawsuits plaintiffs' lawyers have filed against large banks.
WX Post: U.S. reviewing 27 death penalty convictions for FBI forensic testimony errors
An unprecedented federal review of old criminal cases has uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony, U.S. officials said. The review led to an 11th-hour stay of execution in Mississippi in May.
Associated Press: S.Korea Asked Asiana to Improve Safety 2 Months Before Crash
Two months before the fatal crash of Asiana Airlines Inc. (020560) jet in San Francisco, the South Korean government asked the carrier to improve pilot training and strengthen safety measures, a transport ministry official said. Asiana submitted its plan to the government on improving its operations after authorities evaluated as many as 15 processes including aircraft maintenance at South Korea’s second-biggest airline, Kwon Yong Bok, director general of aviation safety policy at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, said. The carrier was preparing to implement the new measures when the accident happened, Kwon said.
Houston Chronicle: Perry to sign sweeping abortion restrictions
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is set to sign into law sweeping new abortion restrictions that sparked weeks of protests at the state Capitol. Perry plans to sign the legislation at a ceremony Thursday morning. It will require abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, restrict abortions to surgical centers, dictate when abortion-inducing drugs can be taken and ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. Only five of Texas' 42 abortion clinics currently meet the new requirements.
Arizona Central: 12 states sue EPA, seek Clean Air Act records
Arizona and 11 other states are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for not complying with their public-records requests for information on the implementation of the Clean Air Act. Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming are the other states involved in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Oklahoma.
Richmond Times-Dispatch: McDonnell renting house to state health commissioner
Gov. Bob McDonnell has found a way to defray part of his monthly real estate expenses on the millions of dollars in property he owns — by renting his western Henrico County home to his hand-picked state health commissioner. Dr. Cynthia C. Romero, who took over as commissioner in January, has been renting the McDonnells’ $835,000 home in the Wyndham community, a McDonnell spokesman confirmed.
Silicon Valley Mercury News: UC chief nominee Janet Napolitano has long involvement in university affairs
If Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is appointed UC president on Thursday, Californians will be getting more than just a big-name politician who has wrangled unwieldy bureaucracies and responded to natural disasters, supporters say. Those who have known Napolitano since her undergraduate days at Santa Clara University note that she has been far more involved in university affairs than her résumé suggests. They say the state will gain a forward-thinking leader who can help the prized system find its way in a new economic reality.
Chicago Tribune: Emanuel awards $67 million speed camera contract
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration finalized a $67 million, five-year contract to install up to 300 cameras to catch speeders around city schools and parks, but a slow rollout could mean as few as 50 locations operating this year, the city and vendor confirmed Wednesday. The program sold by the mayor as a child-safety initiative could eventually mean hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket revenue for the city. But Emanuel reduced his initial projection of $30 million in ticket revenue this year to $15 million, due to a combination of technical delays and the bribery scandal that engulfed the city's red light camera vendor amid a series of Tribune stories that began last year.
CNN: North Korea to Panama: Release our ship, crew
North Korea has a message for Panamanian authorities who seized a cargo ship packed with sugar and weapons: Release the boat and let the crew go. "The Panamanian investigation authorities rashly attacked and detained the captain and crewmen of the ship on the plea of 'drug investigation' and searched its cargo but did not discover any drug," a spokesman for North Korean's Foreign Ministry told state-run KCNA on Wednesday. "Yet, they are justifying their violent action, taking issue with other kind of cargo aboard the ship. This cargo is nothing but aging weapons which are to send back to Cuba after overhauling them according to a legitimate contract." According to the state media report, the spokesman described the incident as an "abnormal case."
CNN: South Africa plans 'biggest celebration ever' for ailing Mandela's 95th birthday
As Nelson Mandela lies ill in a South African hospital, the world celebrates his 95th birthday Thursday, honoring his legacy in various ways, including performing 67 minutes of community service. School children in the nation will sing "Happy Birthday" to the revered statesman in unison. The day also marks 15 years since he married his wife, Graca Machel. The United Nations declared July 18 as Mandela Day four years ago to honor his role in reconciling a country torn apart by apartheid. It started as a call to promote global peace and encourage community service.
CNN: Greece agrees deal to reform civil service
The Greek parliament has approved controversial reforms of the civil service and tax administration, opening the way for mass dismissals of state employees in return for a €6.8bn aid disbursement by international lenders. The legislation was passed in the early hours of Thursday after the governing coalition secured a narrow majority in 15 separate votes on key clauses in the bill.
NYT: Momentum Shifts in Syria, Bolstering Assad’s Position
Not long ago, rebels on the outskirts of Damascus were peppering the city with mortar rounds, government soldiers were defecting in droves and reports circulated of new territory pried from the grip of President Bashar al-Assad. As his losses grew, Mr. Assad unleashed fighter jets and SCUD missiles, intensifying fears that mounting desperation would push him to lash out with chemical weapons. That momentum has now been reversed.
BBC: Chile presidential candidate Pablo Longueira resigns
Chile's conservative presidential candidate, Pablo Longueira, has withdrawn from the election campaign. His son, Juan Pablo Longueira, told reporters the politician had been suffering from depression since winning the primary elections. President Sebastian Pinera's governing alliance is expected to choose Mr. Longueira's replacement on Thursday.
The Telegraph: Army chief: We risk war with Syria
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, General Sir David Richards said that “if you want to have the material impact on the Syrian regime’s calculations that some people seek” then “ground targets” would have to be “hit”. The Chief of the Defence Staff also warns that the Government needs to clarify its “political objective” in Syria before a coherent military plan for dealing with the Assad regime can be recommended.
Voice of America: Victims Tell of Torture Suffered Under Chad's Habre
Four Chadians and one Senegalese national, who say they were detained and tortured under ex-Chadian president Hissene Habre, are giving their depositions this week in Senegal before the Extraordinary African Chambers that charged Habre last month with crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes during his eight years in power. In Dakar, the former detainees held a press conference to tell their stories.
WSJ: J.P. Morgan Staring at Record Fine Over Energy
J.P. Morgan Chase is in discussions with U.S. electricity regulators about paying what would be a record fine to settle allegations that the bank manipulated electricity markets in California and the Midwest, according to people familiar with the talks.
CNNMoney: Could China scandal derail Glaxo?
Chinese officials have accused the drugmaker of orchestrating a massive bribery and corruption scheme, putting it at risk of fines and legal action, major damage to its reputation, and loss of business in a key growth market. Shares in GlaxoSmithKline have slipped since the allegations first surfaced late last week. China turned up the heat Wednesday, launching a media onslaught including the apparent confession of a GSK executive.
CNNMoney: Icahn: I want to run Dell
Carl Icahn is itching to get his hands on Dell. The hedge fund manager has been in battle with Dell's board, opposing a planned buyout from company founder Michael Dell and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. When asked whether his goal in fighting the deal is simply to raise the buyout price of a transaction taking Dell private, he insisted that it's not.
Reuters: Exclusive: GM delays Chevy Cruze debut by a year – sources
General Motors Co has delayed the launch of the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze by a year due to engineering changes and a desire to squeeze more sales from the small car before it is redesigned, people familiar with the U.S. automaker's plans said. The next version of the Cruze, which had originally been scheduled to debut in late 2014, will now begin production in December 2015, said the sources, most of whom asked not to be identified in discussing GM's plans.
Reuters: Monsanto to withdraw EU approval requests for new GMO crops
Monsanto Co said on Wednesday it will withdraw all pending approval requests to grow new types of genetically modified crops in the European Union, due to the lack of commercial prospects for cultivation there. "We will be withdrawing the approvals in the coming months," Monsanto's President and Managing Director for Europe, Jose Manuel Madero, told Reuters by telephone. Madero said the decision would allow the company to focus on growing its conventional seeds business in Europe, as well as securing EU approvals to import its genetically modified crop varieties widely grown in the United States and South America.