CNN Washington AM Note
July 24th, 2013
05:28 AM ET
9 months ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: It's 'Whitey' vs. 'The Rifleman' as Bulger defense goes for top prosecution witness
They were partners-in-crime for more than two decades: Reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger and his henchman, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi. In the course of three days on the witness stand in Bulger's federal trial, Flemmi has described in great detail the murders he says he witnessed Bulger commit and he has portrayed himself as a lackey following orders and getting rid of physical evidence - pulling victims' teeth to avoid identification and disposing of bodies.

CNN: California court denies bid to halt same-sex marriages in state
California's Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the San Diego County clerk's request to immediately halt same-sex marriages in the state, the latest, if not necessarily last, key ruling in a years-long legal fight. The decision was announced in a brief ruling, which said: "The request for an immediate temporary stay or injunctive relief is denied."

NBC: America's race relations take hit after Zimmerman verdict, NBC News/WSJ poll finds
In the wake of the George Zimmerman case, U.S. views of race relations have taken a hit, and one-third of Americans say his acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin has shaken their confidence in the legal system, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The survey found deep divisions on the overall subject of race, along both political and racial lines, as controversy over the verdict has swirled from city street corners to the Oval Office.
WATCH: VIDEO CNN: AC360-Growing up as an African American

Boston Globe: Hernandez focus of grand jury probe into 2012 killings
Prosecutors have begun making the case to a Suffolk County grand jury that former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez should be charged in the shooting death of two men on a South End street last July, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation. “The case against Hernandez appears to be strengthening,” one of the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case publicly. The proceedings are conducted behind closed doors so details of the case against Hernandez are unknown. But the very fact that the case has gone to a grand jury indicates that the investigation of the killing of two Cape Verdean immigrants is now more narrowly focused on Hernandez. Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu were shot early on July 16, 2012, in the South End when someone in a sport utility vehicle with Rhode Island license plates pulled up next to their car and began firing. Hernandez’s lawyer, Michael Fee, did not return e-mails or messages left for him at his office.
SEE ALSO: CNN: Tom Brady Speaks out on Aaron Hernandez and Future with Patriots

CBS: Lance Armstrong urges judge to dismiss gov't lawsuit
Cyclist Lance Armstrong urged a federal judge Tuesday to dismiss the Justice Department's False Claims Act lawsuit against him, arguing that that the Postal Service got its money's worth out of its sponsorship deal and that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations. In the filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, lawyers for Armstrong said the Postal Service, which sponsored Armstrong's cycling team, got exactly what it bargained for, including tens of millions of dollars' worth of publicity, exposure to more than 30 million spectators at international cycling events, and hundreds of hours of television coverage.

WHITE HOUSE:

CNN: Obama heads home to refocus on the economy
President Barack Obama returns to his home state of Illinois on Wednesday to kick off a series of speeches intended to shift the public conversation back to the economy. The first speech in the series will take place at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where Obama delivered his first major economic address of his national political career eight years ago.
SEE ALSO: NYT: House G.O.P. Sets New Offensive on Obama Goals

CNNMoney: Borrowers in Obama housing program re-defaulting, watchdog says
Borrowers who received help through the government's main foreclosure prevention program are re-defaulting on their mortgages at alarming rates, a federal watchdog said in a report released Wednesday. Nearly 1.2 million mortgage modifications have been completed since the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was first launched four years ago. Yet more than 306,000 borrowers have re-defaulted on their loans and more than 88,000 are at risk of following suit, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) found in its quarterly report to Congress.

Politico: The new power triangle
Barack Obama, to hear his advisers tell it, has finally found The One he has been looking for: John McCain. “We have been looking literally for years for someone we can cut deals with, and finally someone has stepped up,” a White House official said. West Wing aides say they now talk with McCain roughly every other day.
SEE ALSO: WX Post: McCain won’t delay Dempsey’s nomination as Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman

WSJ: White House Considers Raskin for Treasury Post
The White House is considering tapping Federal Reserve governor Sarah Bloom Raskin to be deputy Treasury secretary as the Obama administration continues to rebuild its economic team and renew its focus on shoring up the middle class, according to people familiar with administration deliberations. Ms. Raskin, 52 years old, would succeed Neal Wolin in the deputy post. The Treasury said this week that Mr. Wolin, 51, would step down next month after more than four years in the post.

NYT: Legacy on Line in Fierce Drive on Health Law
The message is clear. Few things are more important to the White House this year than a successful health care rollout on Oct. 1, when millions of uninsured Americans will be required to obtain private health coverage in government-run marketplaces. Getting it right — or wrong — will help determine Mr. Obama’s place in history.

The Hill: White House: Amash trying to 'dismantle' counterterrorism tool
The White House said Tuesday that it is opposed to an amendment from Rep. Justin Amash that would curtail the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance activities. In a statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney, the White House accused Amash of trying “to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools.”

CAPITOL HILL:

Associated Press: House GOP, Democrats clash over immigration
House Republicans took a tentative step toward offering citizenship to some unauthorized immigrants Tuesday, but hit an immediate wall of resistance from the White House on down as Democrats said it wasn't enough. The dismissive reaction to the GOP proposal to offer eventual citizenship to some immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children underscored the difficulties of finding any compromise in the Republican-led House on the politically explosive issue of immigration. That left prospects cloudy for one of President Barack Obama's top second-term priorities.
SEE ALSO:
WSJ: House Border-Control Bill Gains Backers
NYT: Latino Leaders Planning Push for Immigration Bill

Bloomberg: Boehner Signals Clash With White House on U.S. Debt Limit
House Speaker John Boehner signaled a clash with the White House and the Democratic-led Senate over raising the U.S. borrowing authority later this year. Congressional Republicans are staking their ground in fiscal negotiations that once again could pose the threat of default or a government shutdown - the recurring theme surrounding efforts to reduce the nation’s deficit since 2011. “We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling without real cuts in spending,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters in Washington yesterday. President Barack Obama and Senate leaders are refusing to accept anything short of a clean debt-limit increase.
SEE ALSO:
WSJ: Risk of a Budget Impasse Rises
WX Post: Immigration rhetoric ramps ups as White House shows its frustration with House GOP

CNN: Rep. Steve King: 100 drug runners for every valedictorian 'DREAMer'
Supporters of the Senate immigration bill's path to citizenship are blasting comments Iowa Rep. Steve King made last week where he said that for every young undocumented immigrant who is a school valedictorian, 100 more are "hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." King made the comments in an interview Thursday with conservative news organization Newsmax. They were in response to criticism from anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, himself a supporter of the Senate immigration overhaul.

The Hill: House votes to block DOD from hiring non-religious chaplains
The House late Tuesday night passed a Republican proposal that would prevent the Department of Defense from adding non-religious chaplains to the military's chaplain corps. Members passed the GOP amendment in a 253-173 vote. That vote attached it to the 2014 defense spending bill, H.R. 2397. Rep. John Fleming brought up the language in response to reports that DOD is considering the addition of atheist chaplains, which he and other Republicans said would be an oxymoron.

Bloomberg: Congress Tells Detroit to Forget Financial Bailout
Lawmakers in Congress are dismissing the possibility of a federal bailout for Detroit, the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy. Even Michigan Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat and former Detroit councilman, says the city should instead search “every single federal program available” for help. “Not new bailouts, but existing programs,” Levin said in an interview at the Capitol yesterday. The bipartisan rejection of a bailout signals how little appetite there is for fresh spending in Washington as lawmakers anticipate another showdown over raising the U.S. debt limit this year. They don’t see much political benefit in propping up a city that has lost half of its population since 1970.

POLITICAL:

CNN: Weiner, with wife at side, says lewd exchanges happened after resignation
With his wife by his side, New York mayoral candidate and former congressman Anthony Weiner said Tuesday that some of the sexually explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website happened after his resignation from the U.S. House in 2011. "Some of these things happened before my resignation, some happened after," Weiner said at a hastily organized press conference in New York, where he also pushed back when asked if the latest revelation would prompt him to drop out of the race.
SEE ALSO: CNN: Huma Abedin, a Hillary Clinton adviser, known as diplomatic, private
WATCH: VIDEO CNN: Standing by your man helps in the polls?

CNN: First on CNN: Republicans launch their own '50 state strategy'
After weaknesses in its ground game were badly exposed in 2012, the Republican National Committee is taking a page straight out of the Democratic playbook and launching an ambitious “50 state strategy” that will steer party resources and staffers to every corner of the country as it works to repair its voter contact effort before the next presidential election. The party’s short-term vision with the project is to help the GOP win key races this November and in next year’s midterm elections.

NYT: Education Overhaul Faces a Test of Partisanship
The House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill aimed at greatly narrowing the federal role in public education that was expanded under No Child Left Behind. No Democrat voted for the bill, called the Student Success Act, and the Obama administration has threatened to veto it. During the floor debate last week in the House, Representative George Miller of California, the main Democratic supporter of the Bush-era law, labeled the bill the “Letting Students Down Act.” The acrimony partly reflects the sharp partisanship in Washington these days.

CNN: Second woman accuses San Diego mayor of sexual harassment
A former campaign staffer for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner became the second woman to publicly accuse him of sexual harassment, saying Tuesday that the then-congressman patted her "posterior" while at a fundraising event. Laura Fink, who now runs a political consulting firm, told CNN affiliate KPBS that it happened in 2005 when she was working as Filner's deputy campaign manager.

BusinessWeek: Obama Isn't Benefiting From Rising Consumer Confidence
On the eve of a major economic address in Illinois, President Barack Obama finds his job-approval rating languishing even as consumers gain confidence in the health of the economy. That puts him in a tricky position: How to get credit for the economy’s gradual revival without appearing to brag or acting as if the mission is accomplished?

NATIONAL SECURITY:

CNN: Homeland Security nominee under scrutiny over foreign investor's visa
The nominee for the No. 2 job at the Department of Homeland Security is under investigation amid allegations he helped obtain a special visa for an international investor after the initial application was denied by the U.S. government. An e-mail sent to congressional lawmakers from the department's inspector general and obtained by CNN said Alejandro Mayorkas is being investigated, but at this point, "we do not have any findings of criminal misconduct."

CNN: James Clapper "very concerned" by proposed limits on NSA phone surveillance
A day before the House is expected to vote on restrictions to the National Security Agency's controversial phone surveillance program, the director of national intelligence told CNN Tuesday he would be "very concerned" if the measure were to pass. James Clapper commented briefly as he left a classified hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which also is exploring changes to the program in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden

CNN: Navy says sex at root of more than a third of its court cases
No other crime, not even drugs, leads to more court cases in the U.S. Navy than sex offenses, according to an internal report out this week. The Navy reported there had been 135 courts-martial involving sailors around the world in the first six months of 2013 and about 36% involved a sex-related charge. The report covers charges like adultery or attempted indecent acts up to sex assault and rape. The report was conducted at the insistence of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

WX Post: CIA closing bases in Afghanistan as it shifts focus amid military drawdown
The CIA has begun closing clandestine bases in Afghanistan, marking the start of a drawdown from a region that transformed the agency from an intelligence service struggling to emerge from the Cold War to a counter­terrorism force with its own prisons, paramilitary teams and armed Predator drones. The pullback represents a turning point for the CIA as it shifts resources to other trouble spots. The closures were described by U.S officials as preliminary steps in a plan to reduce the number of CIA installations in Afghanistan from a dozen to as few as six over the next two years — a consolidation to coincide with the withdrawal of most U.S. military forces from the country by the end of 2014.

LA Times: Unemployment among recent veterans drops sharply
Unemployment among recent veterans has fallen sharply and now is the same as for the rest of the U.S. population, hovering just above 7%, new federal statistics show. The figures suggest that a vexing and stubborn trend of higher joblessness among veterans who left the military after September 2001 has been reversed.

TRANSPORTATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

Politico: Pricey travel creates more IRS trouble
A handful of top Internal Revenue Service executives are spending “significant” amounts of taxpayer money traveling to Washington and living out of their suitcases for work, according to a new agency watchdog report. Although the Treasury inspector general for tax administration released a report Tuesday that found the IRS followed federal rules and spent “reasonable” amounts of money on official travel, some IRS executives’ reimbursement checks set off alarm bells.

CBS: N.C. lawmakers pass sweeping changes to gun laws
North Carolina lawmakers have approved a bill greatly expanding where concealed handguns are legally allowed. The Republican-backed bill approved by both the House and Senate on Tuesday allows concealed-carry permit holders to take firearms into bars and restaurants and other places where alcohol is served as long as the owner doesn't expressly forbid it.

WX Post: FDA grants Plan B maker exclusivity
The Food and Drug Administration said it will give the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step, the morning-after pill that can be sold over the counter to women of all ages, exclusive marketing rights to the drug for three years. The move comes after the Obama administration last month abandoned its fight to keep in place age limits on over-the-counter sales of the widely used contraceptive, saying it would comply with a federal judge’s ruling to lift such restrictions. Previously, women under 17 had to get a prescription to buy Plan B.

WX Post: Court overturns passport law implying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem
A federal appeals court Tuesday found unconstitutional a law that gives thousands of Americans born in Jerusalem the option of listing Israel as their birthplace on U.S. passports. In a separation-of-powers dispute centered on Middle East politics, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the law passed by Congress in 2002 “impermissibly intrudes” on the powers of the president.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

WX Post: O’Malley expected to propose aggressive new standards for renewable energy use
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will propose more-ambitious targets for renewable-energy use in a speech on climate change Thursday, according to people who have seen drafts of his plan. O’Malley is expected to propose boosting the state’s renewable portfolio standard, requiring utilities to make renewables 25 percent of their mix of electricity generation by 2020, up from the current target of 20 percent by 2022. The new standards would place Maryland alongside California as one of the most aggressive states in the country when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases, which scientists say are speeding climate change.

Arizona Central: Court: FDA erred in allowing Arizona to import execution drugs
A U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has upheld a lower-court ruling that the Food and Drug Administration broke the law by allowing Arizona and two other states to illegally import drugs used to carry out executions by lethal injection. In October 2010, days before Arizona inmate Jeffrey Landrigan was to be executed, The Arizona Republic revealed that the state corrections department had obtained some of the execution drugs from overseas. The FDA insisted there was no legal mechanism to import the drug, a fast-acting barbiturate named sodium thiopental.

Detroit Free Press: Michigan teachers' jobs would depend on evaluations, student test scores under new proposal
Michigan’s teachers could soon see their jobs hinge on how well they perform for trained observers and on their students’ growth on tests under a sweeping proposal being submitted to the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder today. After nearly two years of research and a $6-million pilot program in 13 districts, the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness is expected to release its recommendations for a new statewide teacher evaluation tool.

The Denver Post: Hickenlooper a moderate no more? Critics say governor has crossed over.
Only a few short months ago, Colorado Republicans lamented that Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper couldn't be beat in 2014. He was just too popular. As Denver mayor, his favorability rankings were so high that a Republican pollster drew comparisons to Broncos legend John Elway and Mother Teresa. As a gubernatorial candidate in 2010, conservative powerbrokers lined up behind Hickenlooper. But these days, even the governor acknowledges his status as a moderate is under fire.

Burlington Free Press: Vermont economy and revenues making 'trudging recovery'
The state’s economic advisers suggested Tuesday that Vermont’s economy — and, therefore, state revenues — are making a “trudging recovery” from the Great Recession. “It’s not the kind of growth we would normally see at this stage in a business cycle,” Tom Kavet, the Legislature’s economic consultant, said at the summer meeting of the Emergency Board, a panel made up of the governor and heads of the Legislature’s money committees. Jeffrey Carr, the governor’s economic consultant, said the U.S. and Vermont economies “show a positive but still unspectacular rate of growth-recovery progress.”

INTERNATIONAL:

CNN: Kate and William bring home royal baby boy
They looked like "a normal couple" as they left the hospital, one bystander said. Of course, most normal couples don't have a crowd of reporters, photographers and random well-wishers waiting for them to show off their new baby. Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, emerged from St. Mary's Hospital in London on Tuesday evening to give the public its first view of the new heir to the British throne, joking that the still-unnamed boy had more hair than his father. Catherine and William took turns holding the child, wrapped in a cream-colored blanket, as they waved to well-wishers outside.
SEE ALSO: USA Today: U.S. marketers greet royal baby with cute ads
WATCH: VIDEO CNN: Prince meets the public

CNN: Officers hunt down headmistress after Indian school poisoning
A week after an Indian school served toxic food to students, leaving 23 dead, its headmistress remains missing along with her husband, police said Tuesday. A nine-member team of officers has been formed to investigate and track down the principal, Meena Kumari, police superintendent Sujeet Kumar said. Police presence is heavy in the village in Bihar state, especially around the principal's home.

CNN: Militant group claims responsibility for Iraq prison attacks
An al Qaeda group claimed responsibility Tuesday for coordinated attacks on two Iraqi prisons that a lawmaker said freed more than 500 inmates, including some senior members of the militant group. Militants supported by suicide bombers and armed with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns attacked two Iraqi prisons Sunday and Monday as inmates inside rioted and set fires, ending in a massive jailbreak, authorities said. The attacks occurred Sunday night at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, and al-Taji prison, north of the capital.

Associated Press: China bans new gov't buildings in frugality drive
China's leaders have banned the construction of government buildings for five years as another step in a frugality drive that aims to address public anger at corruption. The general offices of the Communist Party's central committee and the State Council – China's Cabinet – jointly issued the directive Tuesday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. No directive was immediately available online.

BBC: Roman Catholics attend mass in Rio for World Youth Day
Around 400,000 Roman Catholics have joined a ceremony on Copacabana Beach in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro to mark the opening of World Youth Day. The highlight of the festival will be a visit on Thursday by Pope Francis. The Pope arrived in Brazil on Monday, making his first trip abroad since becoming head of the Roman Catholic Church. His visit is taking place under tight security, after weeks of protests against the government and corruption.

BUSINESS:

CNNMoney: Apple profit falls 22% but beats gloomy expectations
As it turns out, Apple still has a little surprise left in it. The company sold 31.2 million iPhones last quarter - a number practically no one saw coming - lifting Apple's overall sales and helping Apple's profit surpass some pretty gloomy expectations from Wall Street analysts.

WSJ: Why Retailers Don't Know Who Sews Their Clothing
The spread of poorly regulated subcontractors is one of the main problems in a garment trade that has suffered deadly accidents. In April, the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh collapsed, burying more than one thousand people. Over the past eight months, factory fires have killed about 130 people. Meantime, retailers sometimes have little idea where some of their clothes are made. Many retailers don't maintain the manpower in Dhaka or other garment hubs to regularly check on factories that are supposed to be making their clothes.

DealBook: Criminal Indictment Is Expected for SAC Capital Advisors
Federal authorities are poised to level a criminal indictment against SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund run by the billionaire Steven A. Cohen, capping a nearly decade-long insider trading investigation into one of Wall Street’s most prominent firms. Prosecutors and the F.B.I. in Manhattan are expected to announce the charges in the coming days, according to people briefed on the matter, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. The move, a rare aggressive action against a big company, could cripple SAC.

BusinessWeek: Behind Domino’s Sales Surge, a Better Pan Pizza
Domino’s , the world’s second-largest pizza chain, showed its strength with second-quarter results that saw U.S. and international same-store sales climb 6.7 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively. Those are decent numbers in a fast-food environment widely acknowledged as difficult—just look, by way of contrast, at the pains McDonald’s took to highlight the sector wide problems weighing its disappointing earnings yesterday. So what’s Domino’s secret weapon? Look no further than the Handmade Pan Pizza, a menu item that was introduced last year and has since become “the lead reason for our sales success in the past two quarters,” says Domino’s spokesman Chris Brandon, who declined to break out pan pizza sales.

CNBC: Bulls eyeing new target as the S&P approaches 1700
Within days of breaking through to record highs, stocks are setting up to smash through another big milestone. S&P 1700 is a short hop for a market that has risen nearly 19 percent this year, defying some market watchers and analysts so far. But after 1700, the path for the S&P 500 is less certain, as earnings news is coming in mixed, the economy continues to grow in slow motion and the idea of Fed tapering its bond-buying program this year could easily disturb stock investors if it ends up sending Treasury yields much higher.


Filed under: Washington AM Note
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. king

    healthcare is about 1/5th of our economy! ever since its inception in the great recession, our economy has been progressing upward. the repubs have been saying that this massive obamacare would cripple our country for the past 4 years now, but there is no indication that this is the case, in fact the economy is going the opposite way.
    the repubs want to privatize healthcare 100 percent so they can do to us what the privatized oil companies are currently doing without nothing to slow them down, did you see what gas prices are lately. we need the government to protect the people from greed. if the repubs propaganda machine is successfully destroying 1/5th of our economy, can the other 1/4th survives, or would our economy goes backward to the great recession.

    July 24, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Tighten the immigratin system and pass gun-ban. Period. Have guts. Also voter reform is long over-due. Pass.

    July 24, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |