CNN Washington AM Note
July 29th, 2013
05:36 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Washington AM Note

NATIONAL STORIES:

CNN: Authorities want answers in boating accident that kills bride-to-be, best man
Wedding plans have turned to funeral arrangements as New York authorities try to piece together what went wrong in a horrific weekend boating accident that killed a bride-to-be and best man. "We're looking into every single thing," Rockland County, New York, Sheriff Louis Falco said. "What we're going to do is bring in an accident reconstruction team." Lindsey Stewart and Brian Bond were planning to marry on August 10.

LA Times: Prison hunger strike leaders are in solitary but not alone
Inside the concrete labyrinth of California's highest-security prison, an inmate covered in neo-Nazi tattoos and locked in solitary confinement has spearheaded the largest prison protest in California history. Convicted killer Todd Ashker and three other inmates — representing the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia and the Black Guerrilla Family — called for a mass hunger strike July 8, largely to protest indefinite incarceration in solitary confinement. More than 30,000 prisoners answered.

WSJ: More Doctors Steer Clear of Medicare
Fewer American doctors are treating patients enrolled in the Medicare health program for seniors, reflecting frustration with its payment rates and pushback against mounting rules, according to health experts. The number of doctors who opted out of Medicare last year, while a small proportion of the nation's health professionals, nearly tripled from three years earlier, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that administers the program. Other doctors are limiting the number of Medicare patients they treat even if they don't formally opt out of the system.

NYT: Detroit Looks to Health Law to Ease Costs
As Detroit enters the federal bankruptcy process, the city is proposing a controversial plan for paring some of the $5.7 billion it owes in retiree health costs: pushing many of those too young to qualify for Medicare out of city-run coverage and into the new insurance markets that will soon be operating under the Obama health care law.

WHITE HOUSE:

NYT: Interview With President Obama
Following is a transcript of an interview with President Obama conducted by Jackie Calmes and Michael D. Shear of The New York Times. The interview was conducted at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., on July 24, 2013.
SEE ALSO:
WX Post: Obama’s Keystone comments give opponents reason for hope
Reuters: Obama says narrowed Fed choices, to announce in months: NY Times

CNN: Obama to visit Capitol Hill
President Barack Obama will make a rare visit to Capitol Hill Wednesday to meet with House and Senate Democrats ahead of the month-long summer recess, according to two Democratic congressional sources. "He's going to discuss our shared Democratic agenda to keep moving the country forward by growing the economy, rebuilding the middle class, implementing the affordable care act and reforming our broken immigration system," one source said.

Reuters: President Obama to have lunch with Hillary Clinton at White House
President Barack Obama will have lunch on Monday with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the White House said on Sunday. They will have lunch in the president's private dining room, said the White House. It did not give a reason for the meeting.

WSJ: Grand Bargain Eludes Budget Negotiations
Top White House officials are stepping up meetings with Senate Republicans in hopes of averting a deadline-driven clash over federal spending this fall, according to people familiar with the sessions. But the two sides remain far apart on basic questions of whether to raise tax revenue and how to rein in the cost of Medicare. As President Barack Obama took to the road last week to outline his economic vision, his top aides met twice with a group of eight Senate Republicans as part of a search for compromise on some of the budget issues that have divided the parties for years.

Bloomberg: Obama Bonding With Summers Over Tennis No Ace in Decision at Fed
When President Barack Obama dropped by Lawrence Summers’s going-away party in 2010, he presented his National Economic Council director with a pair of suspenders, a gag gift to help Summers hold up his perpetually sagging trousers. The gesture was meant to tease summers, known inside the West Wing for a mix of awkwardness, abrasiveness and brilliance, according to current and former administration officials, who say Obama regards him with both affection and exasperation.

USA Today: State health exchange rates vary, but lower than expected
As state health exchanges continue to announce lower-than-expected rates for health insurance, experts say both state and regional issues play a part in how much a consumer will pay for insurance beginning in January. Several factors come into play: a state's regulations, how many insurers will participate in the state and federal exchanges, and what kind of a risk those insurers are willing to take.
SEE ALSO: CBS: Oregon spends big to pitch youth on Obamacare benefits

WX Post: How the Obama campaign won the race for voter data
From the moment Barack Obama took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, and every day thereafter, his team was always preparing for the 2012 campaign. Everyone said Obama’s 2008 operation had rewritten the book on organizing. But that was just a beginning, a small first step toward what the team envisioned when it began planning the reelection campaign.

NYT: Few Suitors to Build a New Marine One
Wanting to clamp down on wasteful spending, President Obama halted a project to create new presidential helicopters four years ago, saying its soaring price was a symbol of government contracting “gone amok.” But to the administration’s surprise, a new competition to build the helicopters much more cheaply is also running into trouble.

CAPITOL HILL:

Bloomberg: Republican 10-Bill Assault on Waste Is Pretext to Agenda
House Republicans are using the final few days of floor time before a five-week recess for a 10-bill attack on waste, the Internal Revenue Service and the Obama administration. The legislative flurry is intended to keep the IRS in the spotlight while Congress investigates the tax agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups. The broadest measures have little chance of being enacted and instead are giving party members a chance to stake out positions on shrinking the size of government.

Reuters: Lew says stubborn Congress risks repeating U.S. fiscal wounds
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Sunday warned Congress against manufacturing a crisis over federal spending in the months ahead, as looming deadlines set the stage for a repeat of the political deadlock which two years ago triggered worldwide financial market turmoil. In coming negotiations with Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, Democratic President Barack Obama will focus on ways to create economic gains for the middle class over spending cuts, Lew said.

NYT: G.O.P. Senators See an Upside in a Problematic Issue: Abortion
It reads like a who’s who of the next generation of Republican Party leaders: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rob Portman. But what is bringing all these marquee political names together is not the Iowa State Fair or a Tea Party rally on the National Mall. Rather, they are all talking discreetly about how to advance a bill in the Senate to ban abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization.

WX Post: With NSA revelations, Sen. Ron Wyden’s vague warnings about privacy finally become clear
It was one of the strangest personal crusades on Capitol Hill: For years, Sen. Ron Wyden said he was worried that intelligence agencies were violating Americans’ privacy. But he couldn’t say how. That was a secret. Wyden’s outrage, he said, stemmed from top-secret information he had learned as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But Wyden (D-Ore.) was bound by secrecy rules, unable to reveal what he knew. Everything but his unhappiness had to be classified. So Wyden stuck to speeches that were dire but vague. And often ignored.

Roll Call: Rush to the August Exits Makes for High-Stakes September
The final week before the August recess in a non-election year: Customarily, it’s the occasion for climactic votes on some of the most important matters of the year. This time, it will come and go with little more than a rhetorical torrent about how little’s been done to justify a five-week vacation. Two years ago, a melodramatic eleventh-hour deal averted a government default but ultimately spawned the sequester. Two years before that, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court. In the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, the get-out-of-town votes completed the last comprehensive rewrite of federal energy policy. But in the coming days, the most substantive news will be clearing a hiding-in-plain-sight compromise to hold down student loan interest rates, one month after busting a deadline and making millions of college kids anxious.

Politico: 3 wrap up Senate careers, guarding ACA legacy
Three Democratic senators have spent years of their Capitol Hill careers trying to pass a health care law that would cover millions of uninsured Americans. But by the time that crowning achievement, now known as Obamacare, gets through its first year, all three will have left office. Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Max Baucus of Montana — Senate committee chairmen who helped write the law and push it through the Senate — are all retiring at the end of 2014. All are devoting at least a portion of their remaining time in office trying to protect the president’s legacy legislation from political opponents — and make the law work.

POLITICAL:

CNN: McCain honors passing of cellmate from Vietnam War
Retired Col. George "Bud" Day was the "bravest man I ever knew," Sen. John McCain said Sunday of the war hero with whom he shared a cell as a prisoner in North Vietnam. Day, a highly decorated serviceman who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976, died Saturday at age 88 in Florida, according to CNN affiliate WJHG-TV in Panama City.

CNN: More bad news for Weiner: Campaign manager quits
Days after Anthony Weiner admitted to exchanging lewd chats and photos with a woman online, his campaign manager quit, Weiner and his campaign said Sunday. Danny Kedem's departure is the latest sign Weiner's New York City mayoral bid is struggling amid the charges of online sexual impropriety. After the chats and photographs become public on Tuesday, a poll showed him dropping to second place among Democratic candidates for mayor, and his favorable numbers plummeting.
SEE ALSO: CNN: King: ‘Pathological problem’ should bar Weiner from becoming mayor

TIME: GOP Goes Public With Long-Brewing Foreign Policy Civil War
For years the Republican Party has fractured over foreign policy, but libertarians and neoconservatives, while vehemently disagreeing on substance, tried to project an air of party cohesion. Those days are over. “We ignored them and then tried to placate them,” said one hawkish Senate Republican foreign policy aide about the libertarians. “If we don’t move now [to counterattack], it may be too late in 2016.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments Thursday evening at a gathering of the Republican Governors Association in Aspen, Colo. calling libertarianism “a very dangerous thought” marked an opening salvo of the fight for the Republican Party’s identity in an age where a war-weary public wants to focus on the home front.

WSJ: House Districts Keep Getting Safer
House elections next year are on track to feature fewer competitive seats than at any time in recent history, even as polls show the public has a low opinion of the job that lawmakers are doing. The most prominent explanation for the disconnect is redistricting, the decennial process of redrawing congressional boundary lines, which has produced increasingly partisan districts that give one party a strong hand.

FOX: Virginia governor's race gains national attention for its fierceness, 2016 implications
The Virginia governor’s race is shaking up what has otherwise been a quiet, off-off election year. To be sure, while political observers and most other Americans are looking ahead at whether Republicans can retake the Senate in 2014 or if Hillary Clinton will become a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, the bare-knuckled Virginia race is attracting national attention.

Politico: GOP senators to Liz Cheney: We like Mike Enzi
Republican senators are nearly united in their response to Liz Cheney’s challenge to their low-key Wyoming colleague: We like Mike. That is Mike Enzi, the three-term senator from the Cowboy State who was otherwise on a glide path to reelection until the daughter of the former vice president recently announced she will challenge him in the 2014 GOP primary. Despite the clout of the Cheney name in Washington, nearly the entire Senate establishment is backing Enzi — moderates, conservatives and the Senate GOP leadership team. And that unity could help Enzi surmount a very bloody fight next year.

The Hill: McConnell’s challenger picks up key endorsement from conservative group
Matt Bevin, who plans to challenge Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Kentucky GOP primary, picked up a big endorsement from a national conservative group Sunday evening. The Madison Project, a conservative fundraising group headed by former Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.), who once held track’s world record in the mile, will give Bevin access to donors from around the country. Ryun’s son, Drew, a former deputy political director at the Republican National Committee, is also involved.

NATIONAL SECURITY:

CNN: Military death row: More than 50 years and no executions
There is little disagreement by the Army that the death penalty is used only in extreme cases. But that doesn't mean it won't mete out or carry out the punishment, it says. "Adherence to the law, due process, and respect for the rights of someone accused of crime, combined with respect for civilian oversight of the military justice system, should not be mistaken for an unwillingness to execute the law," said Army Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt, deputy chief of public affairs.

NPR: Which Citizens Are Under More Surveillance, U.S. Or European?
The disclosure of previously secret NSA surveillance programs has been met by outrage in Europe. The European Parliament even threatened to delay trade talks with the United States. Yet U.S. officials have dismissed much of the complaining as hypocrisy. Before the House rejected legislation that would have limited the data the NSA can collect last week, U.S. intelligence officials argued that regulation of government surveillance programs is actually tighter in the United States than in many other countries.

CBS: Unisex Uniforms Debut As Army Opens Units To Women
A new combat uniform with special consideration to the female body is now available at Fort Gordon, almost a month after the Army announced plans to open all units and military jobs to women by 2016. The March debut of the Combat Uniform-Alternate is the first in a series of moves the Army hopes to make in the next three years to help female soldiers feel like more professional members, officials said.

WSJ: Fort Hood Victims Fear Trial's Ordeal
More than three years after a shooting spree that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others at the Fort Hood military post in Killeen, Texas, the court-martial of the Army psychiatrist who is accused in the attack is finally set to start next week, ending an agonizing wait for justice for victims and their families. Still, many survivors and relatives are uneasy about reexperiencing the shooting's horrors, and are wary of stepping into the heavily fortified military courtroom where the accused shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan, will attempt to mount his own legal defense and avoid a potential death sentence.

TRANSPORTATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:

Bloomberg: Boeing Urges More Jet Beacon Checks After 787 Faults Found
Boeing Co. has asked airlines to inspect emergency beacons on a range of planes after ANA Holdings Inc. and United Airlines found faults in devices on 787s linked to a fire in a parked Dreamliner. The aircraft maker asked operators to inspect aircraft with fixed emergency locater transmitters from Honeywell International Inc., Randy Tinseth, a Boeing marketing vice president, said on a blog yesterday. Planes to be checked include Boeing 717, next-generation 737, 747-400, 767 and 777 aircraft.

WX Post: Neighborhood watch groups ponder use of guns after Zimmerman trial
The National Sheriffs’ Association’s neighborhood watch program was established in 1972 to combat a spike in suburban and rural burglaries. It was designed to empower civilians to act as “the eyes and ears of law enforcement” without taking matters into their own hands, said John Thompson, who directs the initiative. The association’s 37-page manual says that patrol members “shall not carry weapons.”

NBC: 34 kids a day seen in ER for choking on food, study finds
A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics confirms that choking is a common hazard of childhood, with 34 children a day admitted to emergency departments because they’ve choked on food. That amounts to more than 12,000 emergency visits a year from kids ages birth to 14, but the problem is actually even more significant since most kids who choke don’t wind up at the hospital.

WSJ: City's Immigration Laws Blocked Again
A Pennsylvania city that inspired dozens of other localities to draft laws cracking down on illegal immigrants has been barred from enforcing its own ordinances by a federal appeals court, the third such decision in a week. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled Friday that Hazleton, Pa., ordinances passed in 2006 usurped the federal government's authority over immigration enforcement. Earlier in the week, the Fifth and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeals issued decisions in Texas and South Carolina against city and state anti-illegal-immigration laws.

REGIONAL HEADLINES:

The Advocate: Gays in Baton Rouge arrested under invalid sodomy law
An undercover East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy was staking out Manchac Park about 10 a.m. one day this month when a slow-moving sedan pulling into the parking lot caught his attention. The deputy parked alongside the 65-year-old driver and, after denying being a cop, began a casual conversation that was electronically monitored by a backup team nearby. As the two men moved their chat to a picnic table, the deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place, later inquiring whether the man had any condoms, according to court records. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked into Parish Prison on a single count of attempted crime against nature. There had been no sex-for-money deal between the two. The men did not agree to have sex in the park, a public place. And the count against the man was based on a part of Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court a decade ago.

Las Vegas Sun: Gov. Sandoval selectively picking jobs data to cite signs of Nevada’s recovery
If you received all of your economic news from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s campaign Twitter feed, you’d be exuberantly optimistic about the jobs outlook and overall business climate. As the Republican governor prepares to run for re-election on the strength of his economic record, you won’t see him tweet that Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Instead, you’ll see that Nevada has had “non-stop job growth” and that the state’s unemployment rate is falling faster than almost anywhere else in the country. You won’t see that Nevada continues to have the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

The Detroit News: Expansion of drilling prompts deep fears
A new environmental fight looms over a huge natural gas harvesting project opponents claim will industrialize northern Lower Peninsula forests and drain billions of gallons of water from aquifers that feed treasured trout streams. A Canadian firm proposes to use hydraulic fracturing to draw natural gas from as many as 500 wells extending nearly two miles underground and the same distance horizontally. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been used in Michigan for 60 years on 12,000 wells with very few problems and little public attention, but not in shale formations this deep.

The Denver Post: Colorado concealed-carry permits see dramatic increase in 2013
More people in Colorado than ever before are attempting to legally carry a concealed gun, and by no small margin. It's 87 percent more. And while 2012 saw a sizable increase from 2011 of permit seekers, that figure pales in comparison to this year.

INTERNATIONAL:

CNN: Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set to resume Monday
The recently resuscitated momentum toward Mideast peace talks has picked up even more steam, with the U.S. State Department announcing Sunday afternoon that initial meetings are planned for Monday night, in addition to previously anticipated meetings on Tuesday. The Israelis will be represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinians will be represented by Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, which said the prinicpals would "formally resume direct final status negotiations."
SEE ALSO: Jerusalem Post: Hundreds protest PM’s decision to release Palestinian prisoners

CNN: Spanish train driver charged in deadly crash
The driver of the train that derailed in northwestern Spain was charged Sunday with 79 counts of homicide by professional recklessness and an undetermined number of counts of causing injury by professional recklessness. At least 79 people died as a result of last week's crash. A court granted the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon, conditional release. His train driver's license was suspended for six months. He must report to court weekly, and his passport was surrendered.

CNN: Egypt sends stern warning to pro-Morsy protesters
Egypt's interim leader on Sunday issued a strong warning to supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsy, state news said. After a meeting of the National Defense Council, headed by interim President Adly Mansour, the Egyptian presidency issued the statement, calling on protesters to remain calm. It urged them to end their "incitement and hateful speech against Egyptian citizens and state institutions and end their violations of the law and endangering the safety of citizens," the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said.
SEE ALSO:
NYT: White House Muted in Response to New Mass Killing of Egyptian Protesters
WX Post: In Egypt’s Sinai, insurgency taking root

BBC: Malians vote in presidential election
People across Mali have voted in a presidential election aimed at reuniting the country after months of political turmoil. Many areas are still recovering after a northern rebellion and coup that led to foreign military intervention – but no major incidents were reported. There are 27 candidates and if no outright winner emerges, the voting goes to a second round on 11 August. However, some analysts have questioned whether Mali is ready for the election.

Associated Press: Pope draws 3M to Mass as Brazil trip closes
Pope Francis' historic trip to his home continent ended Sunday after a marathon weeklong visit to Brazil that drew millions of people onto the sands of Rio de Janeiro's iconic Copacabana beach and appeared to reinvigorate the clergy and faithful alike in the world's largest Catholic country. Dignitaries including Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer turned out at Rio's Antonio Carlos Jobim international airport to bid farewell to the Argentine-born pontiff after a visit marked by big moments.

BUSINESS:

CNNMoney: China and European Union strike deal on solar panels
China and the European Union have reached an agreement over low-cost solar panels that should help reduce tensions between the key trading partners. The deal, reached after weeks of negotiations, will allow Chinese solar panel producers to export their goods to Europe, provided they offer the products above a minimum price. Chinese companies that agree to the terms will avoid the severe tariffs that had been implemented by the EU.

CNBC: Fed, GDP & jobs — get ready for a busy week in the market
For the dead of summer, the week ahead couldn't be livelier. "Taper talk" should pick up again as the Federal Reserve gets set to meet Tuesday and Wednesday. While Fed officials are not expected to make any major changes in their statement or policy, traders will be watching for any subtle tweak that could indicate the Fed's views on tapering its $85 billion a month bond-buying program. About a fifth of the S&P 500 companies report earnings in the coming week, and it's a first look at big oil, with BP, Exxon and Chevron all reporting. Then there are two major data releases — the Friday jobs report, always important, and second-quarter GDP on Wednesday.

Bloomberg: New Wireless Upgrade Plans Could Boost IPhone Sales
U.S. wireless carriers are making it easier for customers to upgrade phones more often. That’s welcome news for consumers and could also provide a much-needed lift for Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Verizon Wireless is following AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc., which earlier this month gave users an option to replace devices as often as every six months, rather than the typical two years in the U.S. Smartphone makers could use the help as they grapple with falling prices and a maturing market.

WX Post: Amazon to hire 5,000 for warehouse jobs
Amazon on Monday is set to announce plans to hire 5,000 employees in its U.S. distribution warehouses, part of an ambitious growth strategy that has come at a financial cost to the company in the near term. The announcement comes ahead of President Obama’s visit Tuesday to Amazon’s Chattanooga, Tenn., fulfillment center, where he is expected to outline policy proposals to spur the creation of middle-class jobs.

CNBC: Global ad market abuzz over $35 billion new giant
The global advertising market began its week with news of the creation of the world's biggest firm in the sector, after France's Publicis and U.S.-based Omnicom announced at the weekend they were joining forces to form a group worth $35.1 billion, overtaking global leader WPP. Even as markets digest the sheer boldness of the deal, analysts are questioning the complications the merger could face.


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